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French prosecutors accuse UBS of aiding cross-border money laundering

France's financial prosecutors accused UBS Group AG of organizing a large-scale cross-border system for laundering tax fraud proceeds, Swissinfo reported Dec. 20, citing Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

The case, which was put forward by the French National Financial Prosecutor in June, alleges that the bank "aggravated laundering of tax fraud" by carrying out "illicit financial and banking sales practices" such as organizing meetings with French clients to convince them to place their assets in Switzerland and using a double accounting system to conceal the transfer of funds between the two countries.

Prosecutors have asked for the parent bank, UBS (France) SA and six former French and Swiss bankers to face trial, the report added. Investigating magistrates must now decide whether to press ahead with a trial -- which could take place in spring 2017 -- or dismiss the case.

The bank has been under investigation by French judicial authorities since April 2012 on allegations of aiding tax evasion, and was placed under formal investigation in 2013 on suspicion of conducting illegal sales practices. UBS has denied any wrongdoing and has previously condemned the probe for being "highly politicized."

French judges estimate the value of French clients' assets at the bank at approximately €13 billion, 80% of which is believed to be undeclared, the report noted.