Former UBS chiefs face complaint

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Switzerland's Socialist Party filed a criminal complaint Friday against two former heads of Swiss bank UBS, Marcel Ospel and Peter Kurer.

Geneva -- Switzerland's Socialist Party filed a criminal complaint against two former heads of Swiss bank UBS, Marcel Ospel and Peter Kurer, on Friday, accusing them of involvement with tax fraud and mismanagement.

The Socialists, one of the parties in Switzerland's power-sharing government, said that they had taken legal action against the former chairmen to seek clarity in the tax fraud cases that UBS has been facing in the United States.

In a letter to the Zurich regional prosecutor's office, party chief Christian Levrat said, "We believe the former UBS chiefs were liable to charges of mismanagement and complicity in tax fraud."

Levrat said the accusation related to the bank's dealings "with its American customers, but also with clients from other countries."

A spokesman for Kurer said in a statement that the accusations had already been examined in Switzerland and abroad.

"The outcome was that these accusations against Mr Kurer were unfounded and untenable," the statement added.

Kurer, who succeeded Ospel as chairman of UBS in April 2008 as the bank’s finances deteriorated, resigned during major management changes earlier in 2009. He was previously the bank's chief legal officer.

Switzerland's flagship bank is currently finalising an out-of-court settlement with US justice authorities that was announced earlier in August, after a lawsuit aimed at forcing UBS to name some 52,000 US clients.

In January, UBS paid USD 780 million (CHF 841 million, EUR 552 million) to US authorities and provided a list of 250 US customers to settle another tax-related case.

All Swiss bank customers are legally entitled to secrecy, which can only be lifted for criminal investigations such as charges of fraud or money laundering.

If judged suitable, the Socialist Party's legal action could prompt a criminal investigation by magistrates in Zurich against Kurer and Ospel .

AFP / Expatica

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