Former UBS Paris head placed under investigation

PARIS Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:16am IST

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PARIS (Reuters) - The former head of UBS's (UBSN.VX) French arm has been placed under investigation as part of a months-long probe into allegations the Swiss bank aided clients evade taxes, a judicial source said on Monday.

Patrick de Fayet was placed under investigation and judicial supervision for allegedly marketing financial placements aimed at allowing subscribers to hide funds from tax inspectors, the source said.

He is also being investigated on suspicions of money laundering, the same source added.

"UBS does not comment on matters regarding former employees," a spokesman for the bank in Zurich said. "UBS France SA will fully cooperate with the authorities."

The Paris offices of UBS were searched in September as part of an enquiry that began in April into the Swiss bank's French wealth management activities.

The bank's offices in Bordeaux, Strasbourg and Lyon were searched in July.

Concerns about wealthy French citizens trying to shelter their funds from taxes have been on the rise with a Senate committee dedicated to tax evasion and money laundering questioning several prominent bankers earlier this year.

UBS's own wealth management practices earlier this year were the subject of a book entitled "Those 600 billion that France is missing", which alleged that its French unit sheltered an average of 85 million euros ($111 million) of client funds a year from taxes.

The probe in France is the latest instance in which UBS's private banking practices have come under scrutiny.

In 2009, the bank was forced to pay a fine and release the names of 4,500 clients to U.S. officials to end a damaging tax probe.

(Reporting by Gerard Bon in Paris, Caroline Copley in Zurich, writing by Astrid Wendlandt; Editing by David Cowell)

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