Swiss bank UBS ordered to stand tax-fraud trial in France

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:11 PM
Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:10 PM

Swiss bank UBS AG has been ordered to stand trial in France for allegedly helping wealthy French clients evade the country's tax authorities after it rejected as too pricey an out-of-court settlement offer from prosecutors.

A French judicial official said Monday that investigating judges found the charges against the Zurich-based bank serious, and the case strong enough to send to trial at a later date.

UBS said in a statement it disagrees with "the allegations, assumptions and legal interpretations being made" and that it will continue to "strongly defend ourselves."

The official said UBS is set to appear in a French criminal court under charges of illegal bank soliciting and aggravated money laundering. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the decision.

In addition to the parent company, its French subsidiary, UBS France SA, has been ordered to stand trial on the same charges, while five UBS top managers have also been sent to trial, the official said.

Investigators suspect the Swiss bank for years sent its employees to solicit wealthy businessmen or sportsmen during sport or music events in France, urging them to place their money in Switzerland. The assets illegally concealed by French clients in Switzerland between 2004 and 2012 allegedly amounted some 10 billion euros ($10.75 billion).

The judges' move followed a failed plea bargain between national financial prosecutors and UBS representatives, the first time such an out-of-court settlement was tested in France. French magistrates reportedly offered UBS to settle the case for 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), after considering an initial deal of 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion).

Markus Diethelm, the chief legal adviser for UBS, was the chief negotiator for the bank with the judicial authorities in France and other countries — the U.S., Germany, Britain and Belgium — where the bank was confronted with tax fraud cases.

He told the French Journal du Dimanche weekly on Sunday, referring to the reported offer from French prosecutors, that "such a sum is unthinkable vis-a-vis our shareholders and vis-a-vis judicial authorities from other countries with which we have negotiated."

UBS is one of the largest wealth management banks in the world.

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Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to the report

London terror attack: What we know

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 12:55 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 5:33 PM

Five people died and at least 40 others were injured Wednesday after a man rammed into several pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before attacking a police officer stationed outside the British Parliament, police said.

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Mark Rowley, national head of counter-terrorism and policing for London metropolitan police and acting deputy commissioner, said the attacker and a police officer who he stabbed were among those killed.

The Islamic State group claimed through its Aamaq news agency on Thursday that the attacker, who  was identified by police as British-born man Khalid Masood, was “an Islamic State soldier,” according to multiple reports.

Police were called at 2:40 p.m. GMT to respond to reports of a “firearms incident” at the bridge, just down the street from Parliament’s home at the Palace of Westminster, London metropolitan police said.

Here’s what we know so far:

Former Egyptian president Mubarak set free

Published: Friday, March 24, 2017 @ 6:34 AM

Former Egyptian president Mubarak set free

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been freed from his detention, the BBC reported.

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Mubarak,88, left a military hospital in southern Cairo and went to his home in the northern suburb of Heliopolis, his lawyer said. Mubarak was released after Egypt's top appeals court earlier this month cleared him over the deaths of protesters in the 2011 uprising.

Mubarak became president in 1981 after Anwar Sadat's assassination.

Cities worldwide show solidarity with London after terror attack

Published: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 1:13 PM

People across the globe showed solidarity with the victims of Wednesday’s deadly terror attack in London.

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Police said four people, including the suspected attacker, were killed and more than 40 people were injured Wednesday afternoon in the attack outside the British Parliament building.

Among those killed was the suspected assailant, identified by police as 53-year-old Briton Khalid Masood. Authorities said Masood slammed a vehicle into people on Westminster Bridge before attacking Keith Palmer, a police officer who was guarding Parliament.

American Keith W. Cochran, who was visiting London to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary, and English teacher Aysha Frade, 43, were also killed.

The flag above Scotland Yard, the headquarters for London's Metropolitan Police Service, was flown at half-mast in remembrance of the victims.

EpiPens recalled abroad due to potential failure to activate

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 @ 4:06 PM

The company behind the EpiPen, a life-saving drug delivery device for severe allergic reactions, recalled some sets of the auto-injector abroad on Monday, although none were recalled in the U.S.

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Pharmaceutical company Mylan said in a recall notice that one batch of EpiPens might not work properly. The batch went to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Japan. The company voluntarily recalled those.

Mylan said that it got two reports worldwide of EpiPens to activate out of a batch of 80,000 devices. The issue came from a defective part, the company said.

Mylan came under fire recently for raising the price of the EpiPen to $600. The cost amounts to a 400 percent increase in price between 2007, when Mylan acquired the devices, and 2016.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

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