© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen at a branch office in Zurich, Switzerland, June 22, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
PARIS (Reuters) -French judges are set to rule on Monday on Swiss bank UBS’s delayed appeal against a 4.5 billion-euro fine for allegedly helping wealthy clients stash undeclared assets offshore.
The initial trial was the culmination of several years of investigation in which the lender was suspected of using a “James Bond”-like scheme to solicit clients and help them launder money.
French business daily Les Echos reported over the weekend that the verdict will be postponed to the end of the year.
UBS is looking to overturn a 2019 French court ruling in which it was found guilty of soliciting clients illegally at sporting events and parties in France, and of laundering the proceeds of tax evasion.
It was hit at the time with a record 4.5 billion euros ($5.32 billion) in penalties as a result, including a 3.7 billion euros fine and 800 million euros in civil damages.
Lawyers for UBS argued in the appeals trial that despite whistleblowers coming forward, investigators had never found clear evidence of systematic attempts to canvass French customers by UBS commercial specialists, including at client events like cocktail parties and hunts.
Fines in Europe for tax-related and other offences have historically been lower than in the United States, with the UBS case marking an exception that has been closely watched by other banks.
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