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Swiss criminal probe into BSI bank

Do Not UseDo Not Use 24/05/2016
BSI Logo © Reuters BSI Logo

Swiss financial regulators have opened criminal proceedings against the country's BSI bank over links to corruption allegations against Malaysia's 1MDB fund.

BSI chief executive Stefano Coduri has resigned with immediate effect.

Swiss prosecutors said the probe was "based on information revealed by the criminal proceedings related to 1MDB".

1MDB is faced with multiple international investigations around the world into allegations of corruption.

Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said it had information suggesting "the offences of money laundering and bribery of foreign public officials currently under investigation in the context of the 1MDB case could have been prevented" by BSI.

In a statement, BSI said it would co-operate with the investigation and described the case as "legacy issues and removing uncertainty for clients and staff in relation to 1MDB".

'Poor oversight'

Earlier on Tuesday, Singapore's financial regulator told BSI to shut down its Singapore branch over what it called "serious breaches of money laundering requirements".

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) also accused BSI of "poor management oversight" and "gross misconduct" by some employees.

MAS is one of several global bodies investigating possible wrongdoing related to 1MDB.

Last month, Singapore prosecutors charged a former BSI employee as part of their investigations into the Malaysian fund.

In its latest statement, the MAS named five more individuals, including its former chief executive, to the state prosecutor to evaluate whether they committed criminal offences.

MAS also said it was the first time it had withdrawn "its approval for a merchant bank since 1984".

'Challenging year'

BSI is a private bank, offering services to high-net-worth individuals, and was founded in Lugano, Switzerland, in 1873. At the end of 2015 the bank was looking after total client assets of 84.3bn Swiss francs (£85bn; £58.5bn).

It employs roughly 2,000 people, with about two-thirds of them employed in Switzerland. About 300 of that total staff figure work in Asia.

Until two years ago it was owned by Italian insurer Generali Group, who in July 2014 sold it to the banking unit of BTG Pactual Group of Brazil.

Earlier this year BTG Pactual agreed to sell BSI to Swiss-based EFG International for 1.33bn Swiss francs ($1.34bn; £922m).

Once the deal is completed, BSI will be fully integrated into EFG.

In its last annual report BSI said that 2015 had been "a very challenging year in many respects".

It also said that it had "successfully supported" its clientele "in the voluntary disclosure process" and improved its "risk and compliance culture".

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