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[ZURICH] Belgium authorities charged UBS Group AG with money laundering and fiscal fraud over allegations it helped clients evade taxes, citing help from France where the Swiss bank is fighting similar accusations.
The investigating judge also charged UBS with illegally approaching Belgian clients directly rather than through its Belgian unit, according to an e-mailed statement Friday from the Brussels prosecutor's office. UBS said it will continue to defend itself against any unfounded allegations.
Under Belgium's judicial procedure, a pretrial court must now decide whether UBS should stand trial on any of the charges. The Belgian prosecutor cited the "excellent collaboration" with authorities in France, where UBS is also awaiting a decision on whether it will face trial for allegedly helping clients evade taxes. UBS is also accused in France of laundering proceeds from tax evasion.
Investigating judges in France wrapped up their formal investigation earlier this month, turning the case over to the national financial prosecutor who will make a recommendation on whether it goes to trial. The bank, which has called the French allegations "unfounded," was forced to post a bail of 1.1 billion euros (US$1.2 billion).