Sunday 24 September 2017

UBS fined over money laundering controls

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

AN Irish unit of Swiss bank UBS has been slapped with a fine and a public dressing down by the Central Bank for failing to comply with anti-money laundering rules.

Dublin-based UBS International Life has been fined €65,000 and publicly reprimanded by the Central Bank after it was unable to show that any of its staff had received instructions on money laundering and terrorist financing, from July 15 2010, when new rules came in, until December 2010.

Only one director was updated on the law before April 2011, the Central Bank said.

There is no accusation that UBS International Life was involved in money laundering and the fine has been levied for failing to have controls in place to prevent laundering.

Tougher regime

UBS is just the latest firm to fall foul of the Central Bank's tougher regulatory regime.

Last month's tough action by the regulator led to the collapse of Bloxham stockbrokers over a single weekend, after it was found not to be compliant with capital rules.

Yesterday's fine is the first time any financial firm has been fined for failure to comply with money laundering rules introduced two years ago.

While the fine is small, the public reprimand will be seen here and abroad as part of a wider effort to improve Ireland's reputation as a well-regulated financial centre following the banking crisis.

The fact that the reprimand was made so publicly is a blow to UBS, which has been trying to repair a reputation damaged by a 2009 scandal in the US.

UBS was forced to pay a massive $780m (€621m) fine to the US Justice Department, after admitting it helped wealthy Americans hide up to $20bn in secret bank accounts.

Irish Independent

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