Several Swiss banks have been reprimanded for breaching laundering rules involving people linked to Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, and have been ordered to terminate all business links with Venezuelan clients as well as with risky clients.
The announcement was done by Switzerland's Financial Market Supervisory Authority, FINMA, and is the conclusion of a five year investigation into some thirty Swiss banks allegedly linked to money laundering or other similar crimes.
Since the investigation started in 2016 five banks have been reprimanded by FINMA, and two former chief executives of private bank Julius Bär and Credit Suisse have been pointed out for anti-corruption failings.
In the final case the regulator and watchdog criticised Lugano-based Banca Zarattini and CBH Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique in Geneva. FINMA found that between 2041 and 2018, Banca Zarattini breached obligations to combat money laundering, while CBH Bank between 2012/20 also committed similar serious infringement of supervisory law.
“Both banks failed to carry out sufficient economic background clarifications into business relationships and transactions with increased money-laundering risks. Adequate documentation was also lacking in these areas,” it said.
FINMA imposed a temporary ban on Banca Zarattini on accepting new Venezuelan and politically exposed persons as clients. The measures imposed on CBH Bank include the termination of all remaining business relationships with Venezuelan clients.
In addition, CBH must review other especially risky client relationships and terminate these if necessary, FINMA said.
Banca Zarattini said it accepts without reservations the conclusions reached by the regulator.
It added that the shortcomings only referred to a limited period of time and a limited number of clients, adding that it had contacted FINMA as soon as it became aware of potential problems and cooperated extensively with the inquiry.
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