Swiss bank UBS has been charged with money laundering and serious and organised tax fraud, Brussels prosecutors said on Friday.
“The Swiss bank is suspected of having directly, and not via its Belgian subsidiary, approached Belgian clients to convince them to set up structures aimed at evading taxes,” they said in a statement.
UBS external linksaid in an email statement sent to swissinfo.ch that: "We take note of this next step in the proceedings in Belgium, which means an official investigation will be conducted. UBS will continue to defend itself against any unfounded allegations."
The Belgian announcement is the latest in a series of investigations by European and United States authorities into Swiss banks, where strict banking secrecy rules had made it a haven for untaxed assets.
Neighbouring France placed UBS under formal examination in 2014 and the investigating judges ordered UBS to provide bail of €1.1 billion (CHF1.2 billion). UBS has called the French allegations “unfounded”.
Belgian prosecutors said they were able to firm up the case against UBS through “excellent” cooperation with French authorities and the work of an inquiry committee.
There have been previous charges in Belgium. In 2014, Belgian police carried out raids both at the bank and at the homes of UBS Belgium’s chief executive and a client. The Belgian division CEO was also charged at the time.
UBS has denied that its Belgian division, which has since been sold, had ever supported tax evasion.
swissinfo.ch and agencies