UBS, the Swiss investment bank and financial services firm, better known as the main Art Basel partner, has been fined 4.2 billion for aiding some of its French clients evade taxes. The fine was enforced by a court in Paris that found UBS guilty of tax fraud and laundering proceeds as well as illicit solicitation of clients between 2004 and 2012.
This comes as the largest tax fraud fine ever to be imposed by a French court and slaps an additional 800,000 euros in damages and interest due to the French state. The court’s ruling also charged UBS’s French arm with 15 million euros for its complicity in the illegal activities.
In a statement quoted by The Art Newspaper, UBS, which announced that it will be appealing the ruling, said that the findings are “not supported by any concrete evidence, but instead is based on the unfounded allegations of former employees who were not even heard at the trial.”
In addition to UBS’s various contributions in the art market, UBS has been most famously known as the main partner of Art Basel’s global fairs since 1994, earning it the title “global lead partner”. It also participates in the publication of the annual market analysis report in partnership with Art Basel, entitled The Art Market.
“Art Basel has a long-term partnership with UBS and continues working with UBS as its global lead partner,” a fair representative told TAN after the French court announced its ruling.
The bank also famously manages an impressive corporate art collection that includes works by some of the biggest names in contemporary art and maintains sponsorship of several major museums around the world like the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen and the Bevelerin Foundation in Basel.
Poul Erik Tøjner, the director of the Louisiana Museum, told TAN: “The present lawsuit regarding the French sentence passed on UBS has been ongoing for many years, according to the BBC, and UBS intends to appeal the case, which therefore still remains pending, so the Louisiana Museum cannot be part in this case, on either side, and we shall therefore have to await the final conclusions of the case before any decisions can be made”.