JP Morgan pays €25m to settle French fraud charge

Major US bank JP Morgan has agreed to pay a settlement of €25 million over charges of aiding tax fraud in France.

The settlement was recommended by French prosecutors

The bank was accused of aiding Wendel Investment Group, prosecutors said last week.

JP Morgan is charged with setting up a profit-sharing enterprise that enabled all involved to avoid taxes on €315 million of investment gains between 2007 and 2008.

An investigation kicked off in 2012, when French tax watchdogs filed a complaint about the arrangement.

More than a dozen executives involved in the scheme, including former Wendel chairman Jean-Bernard Lafonta, are still awaiting trial for their part.

Wendel Investment Group itself has not been accused of any misconduct.

A Paris hearing last week saw lawyers for JP Morgan state the bank would not contest the settlement.

Stephane Noel, president of the Paris judicial court, says the bank gained “no fiscal benefit” from creating the investment vehicle, or in providing financing to executives.

Prosecutors argued that the bank should be allowed to settle the case, rather than it heading to criminal courts.

JP Morgan, they said, was complicit but not an originator of the alleged fraud.

Lawyer Thierry Marembert, representing the US lender, adds it had “only a very limited role” in the Wendel affair.

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