UBS was warned numerous times over a period of at least six years that its French private bank risked breaking local tax laws, according to the written judgment in a case where the Swiss bank faces a 4.5 billion-euro ($5.10 billion) penalty, reports Reuters.
The hefty sanction — a 3.7 billion euro fine and 800 million euros in damages — has stunned the European banking world and raised questions over how the bank handled the process.
UBS consistently denied wrongdoing and immediately appealed the verdict, describing the court’s decision as “incomprehensible”. The judgment, published late on Thursday, said UBS staff of different levels of seniority in the bank’s French business told management that they had concerns about its practices.
The judgment showed that as early as 2003, Eric Dupuy, the legal department’s director at UBS’ French business, warned his bosses that staff were not respecting all compliance proceedings when registering risks associated to new customers.
Others came forward in 2006, 2007 and 2009, the court documents showed. Jean-Frédéric de Leusse, the head of UBS’s French unit, on Thursday dismissed the content of those warnings as “unsubstantiated gossip”.
“Every time there was an accusation like that, we carried out thorough investigations, but no specific facts were presented,” de Leusse told reporters at a news conference in Paris.