The path UBS Group AG dealt with case of potential client in Bordeaux who had just won 26 million euros ($ 31 million) playing the lottery troubled a Parisian judge assessing the bank’s appeal against a record fine .
Judge Hervé Robert cited a letter sent by a UBS banker in Switzerland after meeting the jackpot winner in Bordeaux providing him with a Swiss account number. A 2003 law prohibits Swiss bankers at UBS from seeking new clients in France.
UBS is contesting a € 4.5 billion penalty linked to accusations that the Swiss lender also helped clients launder funds through numbered accounts and trusts that should have been reported to French tax officials. Five former UBS bankers were also convicted in 2019.
Jean-Frédéric de Leusse, managing director of UBS’s French unit, couldn’t say for sure where the account opening documents were signed around 15 years ago – in Bordeaux or elsewhere – but said that it was the potential client who asked to open an account in Switzerland, as well as an account in France.
“I do not think that this refers to an illegal situation,” Mr. de Leusse told judges Monday of the Paris court of appeal during the last week of the trial. “I do not think that the law requires the establishment of two separate meetings” to manage the opening of French and Swiss accounts.
Robert also said the letter mentioned the credentials of the Swiss banker UBS in the header and those of the French unit in the footer, adding that he considered “this is one of the documents. most problematic ”in the case.
De Leusse suggested that it was “probably a printing error”. UBS France has been accused of having served as a vehicle to help its parent company illegally recruit wealthy French prospects.