September 27, 2017 / 12:10 PM / 2 years ago

German prosecutors launch tax probe against UBS clients

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen on a building in Zurich, February 13, 2013. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer/File Photo

DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Wednesday said they have launched an investigation against clients of Swiss bank UBS (UBSG.S) in Germany on grounds of suspected tax evasion.

As part of the probe, premises were being searched by up to 130 prosecutors and tax investigators, the Bochum prosecutors said. German magazine WirtschaftsWoche had earlier reported the searches.

A database containing details on 2,000 UBS clients, which was bought by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, forms the basis of the investigation, the prosecutors said.

Over the past years, the bank has been a regular target of German tax investigators, who have repeatedly bought CDs with client data.

In 2014, UBS paid around 300 million euros ($352 million) to settle claims by authorities in Bochum that it helped wealthy Germans dodge taxes.

Since then, the focus of tax investigators has shifted from the bank to its clients.

UBS said in a statement it did not comment on ongoing investigations but it had largely completed a compliance program with clients based in Europe.

“The bank was among the first in the industry to take this step requiring documentation of tax disclosure by its clients,” the bank said, adding its business fully complied with the law.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; Additional reporting by Joshua Franklin; Writing by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Christoph Steitz

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