Swiss watchdog blames two other banks in Venezuela money laundering probe

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The logo of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA is seen outside its headquarters in Bern, Switzerland April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

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ZURICH, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Switzerland’s financial regulator has reprimanded two more Swiss banks for breaching their anti-money laundering obligations as it wraps up a five-year investigation into the banks’ dealings with related persons to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

The FINMA watchdog contacted 30 Swiss banks during its investigation. He has already challenged two former chief executives of private bank Julius Baer (BAER.S) and hit Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) for anti-corruption failings. Read more

FINMA has already reprimanded five banks in total since the start of the investigation in 2016.

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In the final case disclosed on Thursday, the regulator criticized Banca Zarattini & Co SA and CBH Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique SA.

FINMA found that Banca Zarattini between 2014 and 2018 and CBH Bank between 2012 and 2020 violated their anti-money laundering obligations and their duties to implement an appropriate risk management policy, a serious violation of law supervision, FINMA said.

“Both banks failed to provide sufficient economic clarifications on business relationships and transactions with increased money laundering risks. Adequate documentation was also lacking in these areas,” he said. .

FINMA has imposed a temporary ban on accepting new Venezuelans and politically exposed persons as clients of Banca Zarattini. The measures imposed on CBH Bank include the termination of all remaining business relationships with Venezuelan customers.

In addition, CBH should review other particularly risky client relationships and terminate them if necessary, FINMA said.

Banca Zarattini said it contacted the regulator as soon as it became aware of potential issues and cooperated extensively with the investigation. It had since improved its anti-money laundering and compliance systems.

“The bank fully accepts the conclusions of the supervisory authority regarding the shortcomings found in the way the bank fights against money laundering, stressing that these shortcomings only concern a limited period and a limited number of relationships with Venezuelan customers,” it said.

In a separate statement, CBH noted that FINMA has not imposed sanctions on the bank or staff and that the bank has already issued rulings that address the restrictions imposed by FINMA.

($1 = 0.9279 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by John Revill Editing by Michael Shields and Mark Potter

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