Sat, Feb 03, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Switzerland penalizes Gazprombank

AFP, GENEVA, Switzerland

Switzerland’s financial watchdog on Thursday said that it has sanctioned the local subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprombank following a money laundering investigation triggered by the Panama Papers leaks.

Gazprombank Switzerland has been barred from taking on new clients after being “in serious breach of its anti-money laundering due diligence requirements in the period from 2006 to 2016,” the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority said in a statement.

Switzerland opened probes into 30 banks following the release in 2016 of the so-called Panama Papers — a massive amount of data from a prominent Panamanian law firm showing how the world’s wealthy stash assets.

In an investigation that concluded last month, Gazprombank Switzerland was found to have committed a range of violations, including sloppy risk assessments.

“The bank also failed to keep appropriate records of the transactions and relationships, and frequently did not validate the documentation it obtained,” the agency said.

The bank’s Swiss unit broadly showed “serious shortcomings in the prevention of money laundering,” the watchdog said.

Aside from a ban on expanding its business, the agency also ordered Gazprombank Switzerland to set up a new risk committee.

The main Russian branch of Gazprombank is controlled by Kremlin-controlled oil giant Gazprom PJSC.

The agency said the conclusion of the Gazprombank probe marked the end of its investigations related to the Panama Papers.

The Swiss watchdog separately announced that it had ordered Privatbank SA Lugano to hand over 1.3 million Swiss francs (US$1.4 million) in “unlawfully generated profits” through its dealings with scandal-tainted Brazilian companies Petroleo Brasileiro SA, commonly known as Petrobras, and Odebrecht.

The agency’s probes related to the two Brazilian companies were launched after authorities in Brazil began criminal investigations into massive money laundering and other corruption within oil giant Petrobras and construction group Odebrecht in 2014.

The Swiss investigation found that Privatbank SA Lugano “maintained several dozen business relationships linked with the corruption scandal” and that the bank had failed to properly scrutinize its partners.

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