UBS sites in Germany searched in Luxembourg-linked tax probe
(Bloomberg) Prosecutors in Germany carried out searches in connection with an investigation of about 2,000 UBS Group clients on suspicion of tax fraud, extending a series of probes into its customers that stretch back at least five years.
The actions began Tuesday, with around 130 investigators involved, prosecutors for the German city of Bochum said in an emailed statement.
The search has been completed, and no documents were seized, Andreas Kessler, a spokesman for UBS, said.
No UBS Europe SE employee is currently under investigation, he added.
Searches of UBS sites are ongoing, and the bank itself is not currently under investigation, a person familiar with the matter said.
The bank is cooperating with authorities, a UBS spokesman said, declining to comment further.
In 2012, raids involving around 100 UBS clients in Germany were carried out as part of a tax-evasion probe by Bochum prosecutors.
In 2014, the bank paid about €302 million to authorities to settle the investigation.
The Swiss bank has defended itself in tax-evasion cases across Europe as governments seek to track cash hidden in secret bank accounts.
In the most recent case, prosecutors said German UBS clients are suspected of failing to report taxable income on investments in Luxembourg accounts.
Following a reorganisation earlier this year, the bank folded its Luxembourg wealth-management subsidiary into UBS Europe SE, based in Frankfurt.
The world's largest wealth manager has been trying to flush out non-tax compliant bank accounts across Europe since the end of bank secrecy protections in Switzerland forced clients to come clean.
In France, UBS is going to trial in a tax-fraud case that could leave it open to a fine of as much as €4.9 billion from the French government.
The bank, which posted a €1.1 billion bond to cover any potential penalties three and a half years ago, is going to court after settlement talks with French authorities broke down over the size of the fine.
UBS was not the only Swiss bank under investigation in Germany for allegedly helping its citizens evade taxes.
Credit Suisse Group and Julius Baer Group settled in 2011 for €150 million and €50 million, respectively.