June 20 - Swiss banking giant UBS faces the possibility of more legal action as investigators detain the head of its Belgian unit in connection with an alleged multi-billion euro tax fraud - while US authorities are reported to be probing for alleged criminal fraud related to bond sales. David Pollard reports.
Their problems just keep piling up. UBS is besieged by the threat of legal action on both sides of the Atlantic. Belgian investigators have detained the head of its Belgian unit in connection with an alleged multi-billion euro tax fraud. Ine Van Wymersch is from the Prosecutor's Office. SOUNDBITE (French) PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON, INE VAN WYMERSCH, SAYING: "The investigation doesn't yet allow us to put the total fraud amount in numbers, but it's estimated to be several billion dollars. This morning, the investigating judge put UBS Belgium CEO Mr. Bruehwiler under temporary arrest. He's now being questioned." Chief executive Marcel Bruehwiler's arrest came after police raids at his home, at the home of a client and at the bank itself. Bruehwiler was then taken in for questioning by a judge. UBS says it's fully co-operating with the authorities. The authorities say the allegations are based on inside knowledge of the bank's operations. SOUNDBITE (French) PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE SPOKESPERSON, INE VAN WYMERSCH, SAYING: "Preliminary investigations show evidence of organised behaviour probably allowing fraudulent tax evasion. This emerged from very accurate denunciations from compliance officers who had either left the bank or been fired by the bank. These people could no longer tolerate UBS's modus operandi and therefore they did what they had to do." US authorities are also probing UBS for criminal fraud, according to an exclusive Reuters report. It's alleged a former broker in Puerto Rico directed clients to improperly borrow money - for the purchase of mutual funds that later plunged in value. And last week, independent analysts estimated UBS would have to pay eight billion dollars in fines and settlements - related to allegations of price manipulation in the currency markets.