Via Financial Times

Swiss financial regulators have reprimanded Julius Baer for falling “significantly short” in its fight against money laundering and banned the private bank from carrying out large acquisitions until it “fully complies with the law”.

The Financial Market Supervisory Authority on Thursday said that Julius Baer’s shortcomings had arisen in connection with alleged cases of corruption, linked to Petróleos de Venezuela, the Latin American nation’s state-owned oil and natural gas group, and Fifa, the world football federation. These allegedly took place between 2009 and 2018.

Julius Baer acknowledged “in principle the conclusions regarding shortcomings in the fight against money laundering in its Latin American business”, it said in a statement on Thursday. “The board of directors and the executive board will rapidly and resolutely enforce implementation of the measures initiated and decreed.”

Julius Baer must undertake effective measures to comply with its legal obligations in combating money laundering, Finma said, and needed to quickly finalise the measures it had started to put in place.

“Finma’s findings are serious,” research analysts at Zurich-based private financial group Vontobel said in a note to investors. “Part of the recent changes in Julius Baer’s strategy announced with [its full-year earnings report] under the new leadership of Philipp Rickenbacher need to be seen in this context.”

Julius Baer must change the way it recruits and manages client advisers as well as adjusting remuneration and disciplinary policies, Finma said in its statement. “The board of directors must also give greater attention to its anti-money laundering responsibilities.”

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Finma will appoint an independent auditor to implement the regulator’s demands.

“The proceedings, now concluded, found that Julius Baer was in breach of obligations to combat money laundering and its duty to put in place an appropriate risk management policy, representing a serious infringement of financial market law,” said Finma in a statement.