French prosecutors are expected to start the trial of UBS shortly on charges of allegedly helping French nationals to open secret Swiss bank accounts over a number of years.
The Swiss bank could face demands for up to EUR 1.1 billion in compensation for trying to find wealthy clients who wanted to evade paying taxes in France between 2004 and 2011, according to French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.
The EUR 1.1 billion is equivalent to the bail UBS has deposited against a possible fine. A fine for money-laundering can be equal to half the value of the funds concerned, according to French law.
But if the case goes to trial, UBS could be fined as much as EUR5 billion or half of the EUR10 billion of alleged evasion.
However, even the EUR 1.1 billion figure is “unthinkable both for our shareholders and in relation to what we have negotiated with other legal authorities”, UBS's legal chief Markus Dietlhelm told the newspaper. "It's not at all the market price."
UBS lost an appeal against the steep bail figure, set in 2014, after a court decided it was a provisional measure that did not prejudge the case's outcome.
UBS has been trying to settle the French investigation for less than the EUR300 million it paid to resolve a similar issue in Germany in 2014.