Swiss Bank Chided For Alleged FIFA, Venezuela Fraud

Swiss, switzerland, FIFA, soccer, Julius Baer, Venezuela, fraud, duplicity, Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, FINMA, scandal

Swiss bank Julius Baer is being scolded by Switzerland’s financial watchdog for failing to notice money-laundering threats connected to deception in Venezuela and FIFA, the world soccer body, Reuters reported Thursday (Feb. 20).

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) released a negative report stating Switzerland’s third-largest listed bank had numerous mishaps. It pointed to an incident in which the bank accepted a 70 million Swiss franc ($71 million) transfer in 2014 for a Venezuelan customer known for corruption.

The regulator’s report coincides with Switzerland’s aim to change its image as a non-transparent and secretive financial center. Due to demands from global tax officials, Switzerland was asked to be more transparent, although some authorities have stated that the concessions have helped wealthy countries over poor ones.

FINMA put an auditor in charge of overseeing Julius Baer and told the bank to improve its controls. The bank didn’t face a financial penalty because FINMA failed to mandate that ill-gotten profits go back to those wronged.

The watchdog said it found “systematic failings and management inaction” regarding money-laundering issues. Of the roughly 150 transactions examined, irregularities were found from 2009 to 2018.

“We accept FINMA’s findings and regret the shortcomings identified in our business with Latin American clients,” said Romeo Lacher, chairperson of the bank. “This is not compatible with the risk culture that we are striving to achieve.”

The issues at hand are connected to corruption linked to Venezuelan oil company PDVSA and global soccer governing body FIFA, the regulator said.

FIFA“has been embroiled in a bribery scandal that led to former President Joseph Blatter and former Vice President Michel Platini being banned from soccer in 2015 over illicit payments,” according to Reuters.

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said Thursday that it had filed an indictment against former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who it has charged with accepting bribes.

In other Julius Baer news, the bank appointed former Goldman Sachs Singapore CEO Jason Moo as private banking head for Southeast Asia and branch manager for Singapore in November.