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The UBS Miscalculations Behind $5 Billion Fine in France

Feb. 22, 2019, 2:17 PM

In January 2017, UBS Group AG General Counsel Markus Diethelm bragged to a journalist that the Swiss bank’s tax case may mark France’s entry into the big league of financial crimes enforcement.

“We could be the first company to work out a settlement” in the country, he told the reporter of French daily Le Figaro in an interview at the bank’s central Paris offices on Boulevard Haussmann, alluding to a new U.S.-style procedure of paying fines while not admitting guilt.

Several months earlier, UBS had dispatched one of its top attorneys to convince French lawmakers of the need to create ...