Swiss banking giant UBS fined more than $5 billion in fraud case

UBS faces a massive financial penalty in France after a court there ruled that the Swiss bank helped its wealthy clients avoid taxes.

The court delivered its verdict in Paris on Wednesday, ordering the bank to pay €4.5 billion ($5.1 billion) and finding it guilty of money laundering and illegal client solicitations.

The fines include €800 million ($907 million) in civil damages payable to the French state.

Shares in UBS dropped sharply after the verdict was announced, trading down 4.2% in Switzerland. The fines are roughly equal to the bank’s net profits for 2018.

Switzerland’s largest bank said that it would issue a statement “as soon as possible following applicable disclosure requirements.” The bank previously said the “lack of a case for the prosecution” had been “very evident.”

“UBS believes that the amounts requested were not supported by the evidence presented or the law, and that there are strong legal defenses to the relevant charges,” it said in its most recent annual report.

The bank said Wednesday that it would appeal the court’s ruling.

French prosecutors had asked the court to apply even larger fines of €5.3 billion ($6 billion) as the trial concluded late last year.