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FRAUD

Libor fines fuel massive UBS loss for 2012

UBS announced on Tuesday a net loss of 2.5 billion francs ($2.7 billion) for 2012 as fines from the Libor rate-fixing scandal weighed heavily on results.

Libor fines fuel massive UBS loss for 2012
Photo: Martin Abegglen

In the final quarter of last year, Switzerland's largest bank suffered a net loss of 1.8 billion francs when it booked provisions for the combined fines of 1.4 billion francs from regulators as well as restructuring costs.

The full-year net loss was higher than expectations, with analysts surveyed by the Swiss financial news agency AWP foreseeing on average UBS to turn in a loss of 2.2 million francs.

UBS earned a net profit of 4.1 billion francs in 2011.

Despite the 2012 loss UBS said it had made progress in executing its strategy to reduce its higher risk investment banking operations in favour of wealth management.

The bank said it would recommend increasing its dividend by 50 percent to 0.15 francs per share.

In the fourth quarter of 2012 UBS's investment banking unit suffered a pre-tax net loss of 557 million francs, down from a loss of 2.8 billion francs in the previous quarter.

The wealth management unit posted a pre-tax profit of 398 million francs in the fourth quarter, down from 582 million francs in the third quarter.

UBS also announced it would buy back five billion francs worth of its bonds, which it said would lower its future funding costs and further improve its capital ratios.

"While progress was made on many issues during 2012, many of the underlying challenges remain at the start of the new year," UBS said.

"Failure to achieve further sustained and credible improvements to the eurozone sovereign debt situation, European banking system issues, unresolved US fiscal issues, ongoing geopolitical risks and the outlook for growth in the global economy would continue to exert a strong influence on client confidence and, thus, activity levels in the first quarter of 2013," the bank warned.

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FRAUD

How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland

Swiss authorities are warning the public against the most common current online, telephone and postal scams and issuing useful advice on how to avoid these shady schemes.

How to avoid the most common online scams in Switzerland
Beware of scams circulating in Switzerland. Photo by Greg Baker / AFP

The number of attempts to extort money from unsuspecting individuals is on the rise in Switzerland, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), as well as other authorities, are advising the public to be vigilant of any scheme asking for bank account or credit card numbers.

These are some of the most common scams that should ring alarm bells:

Tax arrears

Geneva officials have alerted taxpayers not to fall victim to telephone scams where the callers identify themselves as employees of the cantonal tax office. The person is told that he or she owes money for unpaid taxes, and callers demand the number of the bank account to withdraw the amount owed.

In case the taxpayer refuses, fake employees threaten the victim with a 200,000-franc fine. If the person is elderly — often the most vulnerable victim — the scammers exert pressure by saying their social security payments will be suspended until payment is made.   

Geneva authorities urge the public to inform the police if they receive such a phone call.

READ MORE: Switzerland: Zug residents receive fake letters telling them to quarantine

Package delivery against payment

You may receive an email, supposedly from well-known parcel delivery services, notifying you that a package addressed to you will be delivered once payment is made.

The parcel notification email contains a link to a page asking for credit card details or to activate a service on the mobile phone by sending a text message.

IT support

A caller pretending to be an employee of Microsoft or another IT company tells you that your computer is infected with a virus and new software has to be installed.

The aim of these cyber-attackers is to trick you into downloading a program that will give them access to your computer. 

In most cases, the callers will also try to sell you software licence or another service by asking for your credit card information.

Competitions and prizes

You may get emails, allegedly from well-known Swiss retailers, promising you vouchers for expensive prizes. But in order to receive them, personal data such as credit card details, name, email address, and mobile phone number have to be entered on a fake website.

The fee is immediately charged to your credit card and, unbeknownst to you, you will take out an expensive long-term subscription to a product or service you may or may not get.

The list of all the current scams in Switzerland is here.

If you receive any of the above or similar messages by post, email or phone, the NCSC advises to:

  • Ignore these messages by hanging up the phone and / or deleting emails, moving them to the Spam folder
  • Never give out your credit card number or bank account information to people you don’t know
  • If you did give your card number, contact your credit card company immediately to have the card blocked. Likewise, if you gave out your banking details, get in touch with your bank.
  • In the event of financial loss, the NCSC recommends filing a criminal complaint with the cantonal prosecution authorities. You can search for police stations in your area and their telephone numbers on the Police website.

A good rule to remember is that if an offer or a deal sound too good to be true, or if threats and pressure are involved, they are more than likely scams.

READ MORE: Swiss public warned about fake emails sent from banks and police

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