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Banking, Regulatory

Swiss bank is criticised for failing to probe Angolan client who may have laundered tens of millions of euro

By Dan Byrne

A Swiss bank is under fire for not thoroughly investigating a client who had potentially used their services to launder tens of millions of euro.

Asset management specialist Banque SYZ SA has been called out by the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) for breaking anti-money laundering regulations in regards to one Angolan client. 

FINMA criticised what it called “breach of due diligence in relation to anti-money laundering,” and has issued an official reprimand as a result.

“Its money laundering processes were inadequate with a view to this client relationship,” FINMA said in a statement. “The bank failed to fulfil, or did not adequately fulfil, its obligations to clarify high-risk transactions by the client, which were in some cases in the tens of millions [CHF].”

The bank was accused of not investigating the client’s assets properly, despite their rapid growth without proper explanation. It also didn’t resolve red-flag issues which should have raised multiple suspicions, FINMA said.

In particular, the fact that the client was an alleged contact of potentially exposed persons (PEP) – a term for individuals with considerable political influence who are at risk of being swayed by bribery or corruption. 

Although reprimanded, FINMA did also acknowledge both the bank’s compliance with its statutory reporting requirements, and the steps it has since taken to align fully with regulations going forward.

A FINMA auditor will supervise the case to ensure the measures being taken are effective.

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