UBS, the Swiss bank, is facing calls from French prosecutors to pay a fine of 3.7 billion euros for what it contends is helping wealthy people in the country evade taxes.
According to a report in Reuters, UBS is facing accusations of laundering the proceeds of tax fraud and illegally going after clients in France. The allegations stem from a seven-year investigation and settlement negotiations that ended between the two.
“Tax evasion is nothing more than theft against the community,” Prosecutor Eric Russo told the court, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Serge Roque, the trial’s other prosecutor, noted during court proceedings that “UBS has deliberately held, handled and managed accounts for people who were evading taxes.”
UBS has told Reuters that the conclusion of the trial was wrong and that it is contesting the amount of the fines.
“The PNF (National Financial Prosecutor’s Office) has not provided details of the irrational way these amounts were calculated. The requested fine for UBS AG results from a simplistic approach taking into account the full amount paid by French taxpayers to normalize their situation,” UBS said. The report noted that prosecutors also want suspended jail sentences of between six months and 24 months for six executives and former executives at UBS, as well as fines from 50,000 euros to 500,000 euros.
France isn’t the only country investigating allegations that the bank helps clients evade taxes. In 2016, The New York Times reported that the Belgian magistrate judge was continuing an investigation into the bank’s possible involvement in fraud, money laundering and other criminal activities related to helping wealthy individuals avoid taxes. The Brussels prosecutor’s office said the bank is accused of reaching out directly to Belgian clients on the premise of encouraging them to participate in transactions meant to evade taxes.