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French court fines UBS 4.5 billion euros in tax fraud case

A sign of Swiss banking giant UBS is seen at a branch in Zurich on October 26, 2018.
Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

A French court on Wednesday found Swiss bank UBS AG guilty of illegally soliciting clients in France and laundering the proceeds of tax evasion, and ordered it to pay 4.5 billion euros ($5.10 billion) in penalties.

Shares in UBS fell 2 percent. A lawyer for UBS said the bank would appeal the ruling.

The penalties, almost equivalent to the bank's net profit last year, included a 3.7 billion euro fine and additional damages of 800 million euros to the French state.

UBS has denied any wrongdoing. An appeal could see the case drag on for years, analysts say.

UBS has set aside $2.46 billion to cover potential losses from litigation and regulatory requirements.

The French trial follows a similar case in the United States, where UBS accepted a $780 million settlement in 2009, and in Germany, where it agreed to a 300 million euro fine in 2014. UBS last month reported a 2018 net profit of $4.9 billion.

($1 = 0.8821 euros)