Published On: Fri, Apr 24th, 2015

RBC Bahamas subsidiary faces allegations of complicity in tax fraud in France

RBCTORONTO, Canada -- The Royal Bank of Canada said on Wednesday that a French judge has referred its Bahamas subsidiary to a French tribunal to face a charge of complicity in tax fraud, while dropping money-laundering allegations.

RBC, Canada’s biggest bank by assets, made the disclosure in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“On April 13, 2015, the investigating judge issued an ordonnance de renvoi referring RBC Bahamas to the French tribunal correctionnel to face the charge of complicity in tax fraud, but not the charge for aggravated money laundering,” the filing said.

“We strongly contest this charge,” Claire Holland, a Royal Bank spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are confident that the facts presented through the legal process will reflect that there is no merit to the allegations being made.”

“RBC works within the legal and regulatory framework of every country in which we operate,” Holland said.

She noted that the charges related to a client who used RBC Trust Company (Bahamas), which is part of RBC’s Wealth Management operations in the Caribbean.

RBC has previously said it works within the legal and regulatory frameworks of each country in which it operates and has a strong record on regulatory compliance, including anti-money-laundering. It had disclosed in February that French prosecutors recommended that RBC’s Bahamas wealth-management unit face criminal charges in a probe of tax fraud and money laundering.

The development comes as RBC exits its business in the Caribbean after being swept up in the net of global money-laundering probes, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Earlier this month, the bank announced the sale of its Suriname operation to Trinidad and Tobago’s Republic Bank Ltd.

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