Swiss bank UBS could face $6.2 billion in fines for hiding clients money in offshore accounts

Swiss Bank UBS could face a fine of $6.2 billion for France could impose a fine of 4.9 billion ($6.2 billion), for allegedly helping its French clients hide money in offshore accounts. When the U.S. fined Credit Suisse Group $2.6 billion in May, the Justice Department said it was the biggest penalty ever in a criminal tax-evasion case. If UBS is fined $6.2 billion it will set a record.

French investigating judges have allegedly determined that UBS helped its French clients conceal about 9.8 billion from tax authorities. The potential penalty for such an offense is half the amount concealed according to Bloomberg News.

A Swiss newspaper reported that it had seen a copy of a report by the French judges, who concluded that the “business model of UBS Switzerland was to offer its clients bank secrecy, in contradiction to fiscal authorities.”

UBS on Sept. 22 lost a French court appeal of an order to pay 1.1 billion bail against potential penalties in the case. Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the situation, says the bail was posted on Sept. 30.

The potential French penalties dwarf earlier payments made by UBS to settle tax-evasion investigations. In 2009, the bank paid $780 million to the U.S. to avoid prosecution, after admitting it helped thousands of Americans evade taxes and agreeing to turn over information on their accounts. It paid about 300 million earlier this year to settle a tax-evasion probe in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. UBS also is under investigation in Belgium on suspicions of money laundering. Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers