Paris — A Paris court on Wednesday fined Swiss banking giant UBS €3.7bn for tax fraud, a record for such a case in France. Lawyers for the bank, which was convicted of illegally helping French clients to hide billions of euros from French tax authorities, said they would lodge an appeal. UBS had tried to negotiate a settlement to avoid the potentially embarrassing court showdown, before failing to agree on a fine with prosecutors. The trial opened last autumn after seven years of investigations, launched when former employees came forward with claims of unlawful conduct. This came as authorities across Europe cracked down on tax evasion and dubious banking practices in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. The pressure eventually forced Switzerland effectively to end its tradition of ironclad bank secrecy, by joining more than 90 countries which agreed to automatically share more client account information with each other.

In the UBS case, French authorities determined...

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