SWISS bank UBS’ staff in France are suspected of encouraging wealthy clients to use its services to evade tax, it emerged over the weekend.
At least three staff are under investigation by magistrates, in a case which has even seen the bank’s chief in the country, Jean-Frederic de Leusse, questioned as part of the decision to investigate.
The alleged drive to persuade clients to open accounts to dodge tax is believed to date back around 10 years.
UBS has also seen its offices in Paris raided by investigators, and the unit in the country was put under investigation formally on Friday.
French authorities are among several who are cracking down on tax evasion as governments’ own finances are under pressure.
And the drive to bring in more revenue is particularly sensitive in France where the budget minister stood down in April after lying about money hidden in Swiss bank accounts.
Judicial sources said administrators have been sent to study the bank’s operations as part of the investigation.
The officials are expected to look at the bank’s business practices, the structure of its bonuses, and how the staff in the accused unit were paid.
Nobody from UBS was available to comment on the allegations and the investigation.