UBS Seeks Bankers for French Super-Rich While Facing Fine

UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, plans to hire private bankers to serve French millionaires from Geneva as it faces a possible record sanction on allegations it helped clients evade taxes in France.

UBS, which last month paid a 1.1 billion-euro ($1.4 billion) bail as part of a tax-evasion probe, is searching for a person to oversee business with ultra-wealthy families and two client advisers to strengthen its France International unit, according to positions advertised last week on LinkedIn Corp.’s professional networking website.

“We are continuously looking at the market to maintain a candidate pipeline” for client advisers at the unit, Tim Cobb, a Zurich-based spokesman for UBS, said in response to questions about the ads. The segment head will replace someone who left the bank, Cobb said. He declined to comment further.

UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager with almost $2 trillion in client assets, according to Scorpio Partnership, is seeking to attract ultra-wealthy families with at least 50 million Swiss francs ($52 million) to invest and tap new riches in emerging-market economies. UBS has said it will continue to invest in western Europe, seeking to compensate for withdrawals of billions of francs by western European clients who hid accounts from tax authorities.

Candidates for the more senior role being advertised should “ensure systematic risk management and strict compliance with all relevant regulations,” as well as helping bankers develop new business, according to the LinkedIn ad. Client advisers should have “solid knowledge of regulations and procedures” affecting French customers, UBS said.

Third-Richest

France was the third-richest country in Europe last year with 9.5 trillion euros of private net wealth, compared with Germany’s 13.2 trillion euros and the U.K.’s 9.6 trillion euros, according to a September report by Julius Baer Group Ltd., Switzerland’s third-largest wealth manager.

UBS’s France International unit offers services for French nationals from locations such as Switzerland. Clients of the unit may either be resident in France, or in popular locations for millionaires such as London, Hong Kong or Monaco, and are required to prove they comply with all relevant tax authorities.

UBS has a separate onshore wealth management business in France, which operates under a domestic banking license.

The bank paid the 1.1 billion-euro security deposit against potential penalties for allegedly helping French clients dodging taxes from 2004 to 2012. It is appealing the decision. UBS may face a fine of as much as 4.9 billion euros, or about half the amount of estimated undeclared offshore funds from French taxpayers, one person with knowledge of the case said on Oct. 3.

“The base for any calculations in this matter are completely artificial, speculative and not based on facts,” UBS said in an e-mailed statement on Oct. 3. “This matter is currently still in the stage of a formal investigation and we will continue to defend ourselves strongly.”

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