Regulator Starts, Cancels Proceedings Vs Senior Julius Baer Figures

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, 25 January 2021


The Swiss regulator is to start proceedings in one case and has decided to halt another, while also reprimanding two more persons in a case linked to alleged money laundering lapses.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, aka FINMA, has looked into whether personnel at Julius Baer are responsible for “serious anti-money laundering failings," the watchdog said late last week. It has decided to start proceedings in one case and not to do so in another case (after one person resigned). Two people – not named – have been reprimanded in writing, the regulator said.

The Alpine state’s regulator did not name any of the persons, described as “high-ranking managers.”

The AML breaches, in particular, are linked to alleged corruption cases in Venezuela. FINMA has contacted more than 30 Swiss banks about corruption cases connected with the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA. 

FINMA can ban individuals who are responsible for a serious breach of supervisory law from acting in a senior role at an organisation it supervises. The prohibition from practising a profession may be imposed for a period of up to five years. The regulator has turned the screws on miscreants since 2014, imposing about 60 bans.

“To issue an industry ban, FINMA must be able to prove direct, individual and causal responsibility for the serious violation of supervisory law. There must be a proven breach of duty that has specifically led to these violations. It is not sufficient under supervisory law to derive responsibility for legal violations solely from a person’s hierarchical level or position or from decisions on the direction of strategy,” FINMA said. “Although mistakes were made in the case of the two reprimanded managers, there are not sufficient indications of direct, causal responsibility for the serious violation of supervisory law.”

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