UBS France Said to Be Charged With Harassment Amid Tax Probe

  • UBS France charged by prosecutors in whistle-blower case
  • Unit faces allegations it created hostile work environment

UBS Group AG’s French unit was charged over the possible harassment of one of the whistle-blowers behind a tax probe that forced the bank to post a 1.1 billion-euro ($1.16 billion) bond to cover any potential penalties.

UBS France was charged earlier this month in relation to the alleged harassment of Nicolas Forissier, a former audit manager who helped trigger the probes nearly a decade ago, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people asked not to be named as the status of the case is confidential.

The French unit faces allegations that Forissier was forced to work under difficult conditions, including internal criticism and eventual dismissal for gross misconduct in 2009, said one of the people. The move comes nearly a year after UBS France was charged over possible witness tampering in relation to accusations Forissier was pressured by the bank before he was scheduled to testify in a employment tribunal lawsuit involving another staff member.

A spokeswoman for UBS France declined to comment on the case, while Paris prosecutors said they didn’t have an immediate response.

In French legal proceedings, investigative judges can charge companies or individuals in a procedure known as “mise en examen” when there is “serious and consistent” evidence showing likely involvement in the matter under investigation.

In a parallel investigation to the tax probe, French prosecutors recommended last year that UBS and its French unit face a criminal trial over allegations it helped clients evade taxes. Investigative judges, which have the final say in the matter, still haven’t made a decision.

Prosecutors accused the Swiss bank of laundering tax-fraud proceeds and conspiring to illicitly solicit clients on French territory. French authorities also recommended that several people including Raoul Weil, who once ran UBS’s global wealth-management business out of Switzerland, answer charges in court.

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