UBS in Talks to Settle Belgian Probe Over Client Tax Dodging

UBS AG is in talks with Belgian authorities to resolve an investigation into allegations it helped wealthy clients dodge taxes, local prosecutors said Wednesday.

Confirmation of the talks comes after newspaper L’Echo reported that the lender has agreed to pay almost 50 million euros ($60 million) to settle the case and avoid a public trial, citing sources it didn’t name.

A spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor’s office said it’s negotiating with the Zurich-based bank and that talks are at a “crucial stage.” He declined to give details on the case or on a potential fine.

Brussels prosecutors opened a probe more than 15 years ago into whether UBS bankers actively encouraged rich Belgian clients to open undeclared accounts in Switzerland. The investigation gathered pace in 2014 when the then head of UBS’s Belgian unit was charged with criminal organization, money laundering and serious organized fiscal fraud.​​​​​

UBS declined to immediately comment on the report.

The bank was hit with a 3.7 billion-euro fine by a French court in early 2019 after it ruled the bank had illegally helped wealthy French evade taxes. However UBS appealed that verdict and is already on track to get a significant reduction to the penalty it got two years ago.

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