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UBS can no longer contest client data sent to French tax authorities - Swiss court

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Logo of Swiss bank UBS is seen in Zurich
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By John Revill

ZURICH (Reuters) - UBS <UBSG.S> will no longer be informed or be able to contest customer data the Swiss tax authorities hand over to their French counterparts investigating alleged tax avoidance, a Swiss court said late on Wednesday.

Switzerland's Federal Administrative Court upheld a decision to revoke UBS's position as a party to the arrangements over what client information can be sent to France.

The bank said on Thursday it took note of the decision.

Under a previous arrangement, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration had allowed the bank to inspect the files and be informed of all final decisions related to 40,000 UBS accounts requested by France. UBS could also challenge the respective final decisions on what details to send.

But after UBS contested some of the decisions, the Swiss tax authorities eventually ended the bank's involvement on documents that had not already been supplied.

The bank appealed against the decision, which was rejected by the Federal Administrative Court earlier this month.

"The Swiss Federal Tax Administration has rightly revoked UBS's status as a party to the ongoing proceedings," the court said in a judgment published on Wednesday.

Switzerland's highest court last year ruled that historical data from about 40,000 UBS clients must be handed to French tax authorities, while blocking the use of the data against the bank itself.

In Wednesday's judgment, the court said UBS feared the data could be used in ongoing criminal cases against the bank in France, a concern the court said was unfounded.

In February last year, a French court found UBS guilty of illegally soliciting clients and laundering the proceeds of tax evasion and ordered it to pay 4.5 billion euros (£4.06 billion) in penalties.

UBS has denied any wrongdoing and has appealed against the ruling. Appeal proceedings are due to start in March.

(Reporting by John Revill; Aditional reporting by Oliver Hirt; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Clarke)

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