By Francesco Guarascio
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm has agreed to pay nearly 300 million euros ($336 million) to settle a tax fraud case in Belgium, Belgian prosecutors said on Tuesday, the latest blow for the Alpine state’s banking sector from the EU.
The settlement comes after a French court in February ordered UBS, another Swiss lender, to pay 4.5 billion euros in penalties for illegally soliciting clients and laundering the proceeds of tax evasion.
UBS, which is under investigation in Belgium for a similar case, denies the charges.
Swiss banks have been exposed to such legal challenges since 2004, when Bern agreed to apply a European Union tax on the savings income of its lenders’ EU clients.