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French judges said Thursday they would deliver their verdict on February 20 in the trial of Swiss banking giant UBS, which is suspected of orchestrating a scheme which let thousands of clients avoid taxes by stashing their money in Switzerland.
Prosecutors are seeking a record fine of 3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion) against the bank alongside penalties for six executives, accused of illegally soliciting French clients and helping them commit tax fraud.
The bank has denied the charges, saying it was ‘unaware’ that some French clients had failed to declare assets in Switzerland.
The French state is also seeking 1.6 billion euros in damages as a party in the case.
The inquiry was opened after a former employee alerted authorities over the bank’s alleged system of setting up dual bookkeeping to hide the movement of capital into Switzerland from 2004 to 2012.
Judges eventually determined that more than 10 billion euros had been kept from scrutiny by French tax authorities.
UBS has been embroiled in a series of similar cases, most notably in the United States, where the authorities said the bank used Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws to help rich clients avoid taxes.
In 2009 it paid $780 million to settle charges it helped thousands of American citizens hide money from the Internal Revenue Service.
It also agreed to turn over information on hundreds of clients, severely denting Switzerland’s vaunted tradition of shielding banking clients and their operations from prying eyes.