Three More Countries Probing UBS Tax Fraud

Swiss Bank UBS on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse, Switzerland. AP

UBS AG of Switzerland said Monday that authorities in Britain, Canada and Australia are investigating the bank's offshore business in the wake of revelations that it helped U.S. customers evade their taxes for years.

The Zurich-based bank said its branches in those countries are among a number of Swiss and non-Swiss banks that have been asked to provide information on their cross-border wealth management services to tax authorities.

UBS said it was cooperating with those requests while adhering to Switzerland's strict banking secrecy rules.

"It is premature to speculate on the outcome of any such inquiries," the bank said in its 2009 annual report. The company reported its fourth quarter earnings separately last month.

UBS last week urged Swiss lawmakers to approve a treaty between the United States and Switzerland aimed at ending its long-running dispute with U.S. tax authorities.

Many lawmakers have expressed reluctance to sign off on the deal, which would see UBS divulge the names of 4,450 American customers suspected of large-scale tax crimes. In a separate deal, UBS paid a $780 million penalty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement that included disclosure of an additional 150 names.

In its annual report, the bank disclosed that it paid top executives 68.7 million Swiss francs ($64.8 million) last year, an increase of 9.1 million francs compared with 2008.

Last year it posted a net loss of 2.74 billion francs, down from 21.3 billion francs in 2008.

UBS confirmed its medium-term aim of returning to an annual pre-tax profit of 15 billion francs.

Shares in UBS closed 0.2 percent lower at 16.36 francs ($15.38) on the Zurich exchange.
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