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CORRUPTION

France demands Swiss bank UBS face fraud trial

French finance prosecutors have asked for Swiss bank UBS to face trial for allegedly orchestrating a vast system of tax fraud in France, a legal source said on Monday.

France demands Swiss bank UBS face fraud trial
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The prosecution requested that UBS face trial for “aggravated laundering of tax fraud proceeds” while its French branch be judged for complicity in these crimes.
   
It also requested a trial against Raoul Weil, the former head of the bank's global wealth management business, who was charged with tax evasion and illegally canvassing French customers last year, and three other top-level employees.
   
Investigative judges will now rule on whether the trial will go ahead.
   
France opened a probe into UBS after former employees blew the whistle over the bank's alleged system of setting up dual accounts to hide the movement of capital into Switzerland between 2004 and 2012.
   
The banks employees allegedly approached French clients, from wealthy businessmen to sports stars, during receptions, golf tournaments or concerts, to convince them to hide their money in Switzerland.
   
UBS is accused of using a double accounting method to hide the movement of illicit funds between the two countries.
   
UBS denies the accusations, arguing that its involvement in such financial operations has not been proven.
   
Germany last year handed documents to the French judges which allowed them to evaluate the assets of French clients held by the bank in 2008 at nearly 12 billion euros ($13.5 billion), said a source close to the investigation.
   
However not all involved tax evasion.
   
The documents also boosted suspicions that the managers of UBS were allegedly aware that a part of these assets were linked to tax evasion.
   
UBS was first charged with illicit dealings in 2013 and in 2014 with aggravated laundering of tax fraud proceeds.
   
French judges ordered UBS to pay a record bail of 1.1 billion euros.
   
UBS has also been charged in Belgium for tax fraud and featured among the banks which set up offshore companies that were exposed in a vast leak of documents dubbed the Panama Papers.

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Trial over 2006 German World Cup corruption opens in Switzerland

Three former German football officials and ex-FIFA Secretary General Urs Linsi went on trial on Monday in Switzerland over suspicions that Germany bought votes to obtain the 2006 World Cup.

Trial over 2006 German World Cup corruption opens in Switzerland
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The three defendants have indicated that they will not be present at the hearing in Bellinzona for a variety of reasons, including fear of travelling because of coronavirus contagion.

Swiss Linsi, 70, former German Football Association (DFB) presidents Wolfgang Niersbach, 69, and Theo Zwanziger, 74, and 78-year-old former DFB General Secretary Horst R. Schmidt are being prosecuted for “fraud”.

They are accused by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office (BA) of concealing from the DFB the true destination of a transfer of 6.7 million euros ($7.6 million today), paid in 2005 by the organising committee to former Adidas boss, the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus, via FIFA.

The case of former World Cup organising committee chairman Franz Beckenbauer is being heard separately because of the former Germany captain's poor health.

The investigation was prompted by a report in German publication Der Spiegel in 2015 that Germany had used a secret fund of 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 million euros at the time) to buy votes and obtain the rights to host the competition at the expense of South Africa.

Beckenbauer is suspected of having asked Louis-Dreyfus, to contribute to this fund shortly before the vote on the host in the summer of 2000.

Louis-Dreyfus was allegedly reimbursed by the German Football Association on the pretext of expenses related to a FIFA gala evening, which ever took place.

Zwanziger, Niersbach and Schmidt have also been charged with tax fraud in Germany and the case is expected to come to trial in the coming months. cpb/pb/td

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