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French aid sought in UBS embezzlement case

UBS has said it will cover any losses to clients Keystone Archive

Authorities in Basel have asked France to help them track down SFr20 million ($11.9 million) allegedly embezzled at a branch of the Swiss bank, UBS.

A 35-year-old UBS branch vice director and a French client of the bank were arrested in Basel in December in connection with the missing funds.

According to the city’s prosecuting office, the 72-year-old client, who lives just across the Swiss border in the French town of Mulhouse, used the money to purchase paintings by Renoir, Hodler and Giacometti.

Markus Melzl, spokesman for the prosecuting office, said a request for judicial assistance had been made on Monday to help them find the paintings which are believed to be in France.

Melzl added that French authorities were currently investigating the origin of the funds used to buy the paintings and whether they were legally brought into the country.

According to UBS, the missing cash is believed to have been transferred from the accounts of a number of the bank’s clients and deposited in an account belonging to the 72-year-old French client.

The bank has said it will cover any losses sustained by clients in the incident.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR