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Amélie Champsaur’s practice covers a broad range of financial regulatory, compliance and enforcement matters, at French and EU level.

On February 20, 2019, the Paris criminal court found Swiss bank UBS guilty of illegally soliciting French clients and laundering the proceeds of tax fraud, and imposed a record fine of EUR 3.7 billion.

The Paris criminal court (32nd chamber of the Tribunal de grande instance) followed the prosecution’s case, which had requested a fine of EUR 3.7 billion against UBS AG – the highest amount ever imposed by French courts. In addition, UBS AG’s French subsidiary was fined EUR 15 million (again, following the amount requested by the prosecution), and five out of the six former executives or managers of UBS who were charged were sentenced to suspended prison terms ranging from 6 to 18 months and fines ranging from EUR 50,000 to EUR 300,000. Finally, the court ordered UBS AG and its French subsidiary to pay EUR 800 million in damages to the French State, which had joined the criminal proceedings as a civil party.

This decision sheds further light on the heightened scrutiny that French criminal authorities impose on actors of the financial sector with respect to suspicions of financial misconduct.

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The European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on mutual recognition of asset freeze and confiscation orders (the “Proposed Regulation”),[1] introduced in December 2016, aims at improving the cross-border enforcement of asset freeze and confiscation orders within the EU.  It is part of a broader set of measures aimed at combating financial crimes, which includes a proposed Directive on countering money laundering through criminal law[2] and a proposed revised Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union.[3]

In January 2018, the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (the “EP Committee”) issued a report on the Proposed Regulation, which proposes certain amendments to the Proposed Regulation aimed at taking into consideration fundamental rights guaranteed by the case law of the European courts, such as the right to property, due process, effective remedy and access to justice.  In particular, in line with requests made by several EU Member States, the EP Committee proposes to include in the Proposed Regulation a provision for the non-recognition of orders based on non-compliance with fundamental rights. Continue Reading Striking the Balance – Mutual Recognition of Freezing and Confiscation Orders Within the EU and Fundamental Rights