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ISS opposes free pass for UBS bosses after French tax ruling

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in St. Moritz, Switzerland, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

ZURICH (Reuters) – UBS shareholders should oppose discharging the board and top management of Switzerland’s biggest bank from liability after a guilty verdict in a French tax evasion case, proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) said.

“A vote against the formal discharge of the board of directors and senior management is warranted on a precautionary basis, as the company was recently found guilty of illegal solicitation and laundering the proceeds of tax evasion by a French court,” ISS said in a statement received by Reuters on Monday, ahead of UBS’s May 2 annual shareholders meeting.

This is the latest opposition put up by shareholder advisers after a French court in February found UBS guilty of illegally soliciting clients and laundering the proceeds of tax evasion, ordering it to pay 4.5 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in penalties. UBS denies the charges and is appealing against the ruling.

Ethos Foundation on Friday recommended UBS’s shareholders reject all of the Swiss bank’s executive and board pay proposals at the annual meeting, including binding votes on bonuses and pay packages.

Also last week, adviser Glass Lewis voiced its objections to the UBS pay proposal, citing “pay-for-performance concern”, and recommended shareholders abstain on the discharge question.

A UBS spokeswoman declined to comment on ISS’s recommendations.

Reporting by Oliver Hirt, John Revill and John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields

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