Swiss watchdog censures Bank SYZ over money laundering rules

Pedro Gonçalves
Swiss watchdog censures Bank SYZ over money laundering rules

Swiss financial market supervisor FINMA reprimanded private Bank SYZ for failing in its duties to root out anti-money laundering in a high-profile case of an Angolan client.

"FINMA found that the bank did not make sufficient efforts to investigate the substantial growth in the client's assets," the watchdog said in a statement, adding it had also failed to clarify the client's high-risk transactions. "The bank did not adequately resolve issues that should have raised suspicions."

FINMA noted the Geneva-based wealth manager had reported suspicions, which enabled criminal prosecutors to investigate the Angolan case. The regulator did not name the client, who has previously been reported as Carlos Manuel de São Vicente, a politically connected Angolan-Portuguese businessman, as finews writes.

Switzerland's public prosecutors froze seven accounts of Carlos Manuel de São Vicente and family members in December 2018 on suspicions of money laundering, according to news website Gotham City, which first reported the news. At nearly $900m it was one of the largest amounts of money frozen by the Alpine nation.

Bank SYZ said it had taken a number of measures to improve the systems it had in place.

"The bank attaches the utmost importance to compliance with its anti-money laundering obligations," it said in an emailed statement. "Unfortunately, for a specific business relationship, the procedures put in place proved to be inadequate."


Subscribe to International Investment's free, twice-daily, newsletter