French court rules UBS bullied ex-employee

'Refused to live under law of silence imposed on her': Lawyer
||Last Updated: 03/05/2015

PARIS (Reuters) — UBS France bullied a formerworker who said she had refused to destroy documents that might have been ofinterest to tax evasion investigators, a Paris labour tribunal ruled onThursday.

The Swiss bank denied any bullying of the ex-employee, StephanieGibaud, and said the dispute between Gibaud and her boss was a simplemisunderstanding.

The labour tribunal, which has no connection to ongoinginvestigations into UBS over whether it helped tax dodgers, said however thatthe "alleged psychological bullying has been established".

It ordered the bank to pay damages and interest of 30,000euros ($33,000) to Gibaud.

Gibaud, who helped organize events for wealthy clients as amarketing employee at the Swiss bank's French arm, had accused her boss ofbullying before she was sacked in January 2012.

She said the harassment increased after July 2008 when sherefused a request to destroy client files and documents that she said could beuseful to a tax evasion probe.

"Gibaud went through a real hell by refusing to liveunder a law of silence that had been imposed on her," her lawyer WilliamBourdon told Reuters.

"It's true that the damages and interest are notadequate given her suffering, but French and European judges are beginning torecognize the unique and complex suffering that a whistleblower like StephanieGibaud went through," he added.

The bank said in statement that it did not plan to appealthe decision because the penalties were small at only 2.6 per cent of whatGibaud had been seeking.

"The bank continues to consider that bullying of itsformer employee did not occur," it said in a statement.

Gibaud published a book about her experiences, Thewoman who knew too much, and has been active in a campaign to supportwhistleblowers.

UBS France's parent company is under formal investigation in France forhelping wealthy French clients dodge taxes between 2004 and 2012.

UBS France is under investigation for complicity anddenies that it assisted tax evasion and says it is cooperating withinvestigators.

Investigators issued arrest warrants for three former SwissUBS managers and a source close to the matter told Reuters last year that UBS'fine could reach 4.8 billion euros if the case goes to trial and it loses.

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