UBS being investigated by Belgian authorities

UBS, the global banking group that has been one of several major Swiss banks pursued by the US for helping American clients to evade taxes, is under investigation in connection with possible tax fraud and money laundering matters in Belgium, the BBC and other media organisations are reporting.

The BBC quoted from a prosecutors’ statement which said: “The Swiss bank is suspected of having directly, and not via its Belgian subsidiary, approached Belgian clients to convince them to set up constructions aimed at evading taxes.”

In a statement, UBS said: “We take note of various articles in the press which indicate that an official investigation will be conducted. UBS will continue to defend itself against any unfounded allegations.”

One possible question is whether what the Belgian prosecutor has done is technically “charged” UBS with the alleged infractions, as the actual statement, in French, uses the word word “l’inculpation” which apparently means a formal judicial examination rather than a charge.

Further details were not immediately available.

UBS was one of around a dozen banks targeted by the US Department of Justice in 2011 for helping Americans to avoid US tax. Subsequently, it, as well as such other banks as Credit Suisse and, most recently, Julius Baer, paid fines to settle the allegations.

According to the BBC, UBS no longer operates in Belgium, having sold its subsidiary there recently. That subsidiary employed around 60 staff, including 20 private bankers, and “has since been sold to Belgian private bank Puilaetco Dewaay”, the BBC said.

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