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Business

Belgium charges Switzerland's UBS with massive fraud

Belgian authorities have charged Swiss banking giant UBS with involvement in a number of criminal activities, including money laundering. The move came on the back of investigations against the lender in France.

Belgium on Friday charged UBS with "serious and organized fiscal fraud." Prosecutors said they found strong indications that the Swiss lender had been involved in money laundering, tax fraud and other criminal activities.

"The Swiss bank is suspected of having canvassed Belgian clients directly - without going through its Belgian subsidiary - in order to encourage them to enroll in tax evasion mechanisms," the Belgian crown prosecution said in a statement on Friday.

Investigators also charged UBS with illegally providing services as a financial intermediary in Belgium.

Trouble everywhere

Belgian authorities made a point of saying that the charges followed "excellent cooperation" with French investigators, adding that no further details would be released for the moment.

Last week, French judges completed an investigation of their own into allegations that UBS and its local unit had encouraged clients to open accounts in Switzerland so as to avoid the tax authorities between 2004 and 2012.

UBS has recently been embroiled in a series of similar cases,

most notably in the US

where investigators said the bank had allowed US customers to conceal their assets and income.

hg/uhe (dpa, AFP)

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