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Belgium charges UBS executive with tax fraud, laundering

A top executive at Swiss bank UBS was charged on Thursday in Belgium for tax fraud and money laundering, the Belgian state prosecutor's office said in a statement.

BRUSSELS: A top executive at Swiss bank UBS was charged on Thursday in Belgium for tax fraud and money laundering, the Belgian state prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Marcel Bruehwiler, who heads the Belgium subsidiary of Switzerland's biggest bank, was charged for "criminal organisation, laundering, illegal exercise of the profession of a financial intermediary in Belgium and serious organised tax fraud," said the state prosecutor's office in a statement.

The investigating magistrate released Bruehwiler -- who denies all charges -- after several hours of interrogation and said he would examine documents seized from the bank's premises in Belgium.

Belgium's prosecutors allege that UBS has been working over the last decade to get wealthy Belgians to hide "several billions of euros" in accounts in Switzerland.

"Preliminary elements of the investigation show organised plans that probably allowed tax fraud," said Ine Van Wymersch, a spokeswoman for the state prosecutor.

She added that incriminating information was obtained "through very precise accusations made by the compliance officers who have either quit the bank or who have been fired."

After three months of investigations, police searched the home of the bank's chief and that of a client, she said.

Several countries including France and Germany have been investigating UBS for abetting tax evasion.

The US already forced UBS to pay a $780-million fine (591 million euros) and hand over details on thousands of clients in a 2008 tax evasion case, and in 2012 indicted three Swiss bankers accused of hiding $1.2 billion in assets.

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