Compliance

Regulator Lifts Acquisitions Ban On Julius Baer

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, 1 April 2021

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The temporary ban was imposed by the watchdog after it found a number of failings at the bank over money laundering controls, linked to cases in Venezuela and the global football organisation, FIFA.

Switzerland’s main financial regulator has lifted a ban on Julius Baer from making complex acquisitions. The ban was imposed in February last year as part of a punishment for anti-money laundering failings that happened over a nine-year period.

“Julius Baer has been informed by FINMA that it is formally lifting the ban imposed in February 2020 on the execution of acquisitions that led to a significant increase in operating risks and in organisational complexity,” the Zurich-listed bank said in a statement yesterday. 

The decision by FINMA, aka Swiss Financial Market And Supervisory Authority, is “based on a status report from FINMA's mandated auditor, which is supervising the implementation of the measures ordered by FINMA and the Bank's own measures”, the bank said.

Last year, the watchdog said that Switzerland’s third-largest bank had fallen “significantly short” of fighting money laundering. The failings were linked to alleged corruption cases involving Venezuelan-owned oil group PDVSA and scandal-hit global football body FIFA. In recent years the Swiss financial services industry has been caught up in several global corruption cases (Petrobras, Odebrecht, 1MDB, Panama Papers, FIFA and PDVSA).

“Julius Baer welcomes the lifting of the ban on complex acquisitions given the significant progress the bank has made in strengthening its company-wide risk management, particularly with regard to money laundering prevention,” it added.

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