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UBS introduces worldwide ban in wealth management

Posted on: April 6, 2009


Reuters – Monday, April 6

ZURICH – Switzerland’s UBS <UBS.N><UBSN.VX>, the world’s largest wealth management company in terms of assets, has issued a worldwide travel ban for wealth management client advisors, a spokeswoman said.

“Last week, we issued a general travel ban for all staff with client contact in international wealth management,” the spokeswoman for the bank said.

“UBS is currently conducting a review of its policy and compliance framework for its international wealth management offering,” she said, adding that the ban would be in place until the review is finalized.

Swiss newspaper Sonntags Blick reported on Sunday that more than 1,000 employees would be affected by the ban.

“This is an immediate step to reduce compliance risk. We are conducting the review because of the complex regulatory environment of UBS international wealth management,” the spokeswoman said.

The move comes after U.S. authorities briefly detained last year a senior UBS employee as part of a probe into whether the bank helped U.S. clients evade tax through Swiss bank accounts.

After the probe was launched, UBS said it would discontinue offshore banking and securities services to U.S. residents and stopped client advisers based in Switzerland from traveling to the United States to meet clients.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that Swiss private banks were banning their top executives from traveling abroad.

The Financial Times quoted an unnamed head of a leading private bank in Geneva as saying steps by countries like the United States and Germany to fight tax evasion meant banks felt they had to limit travel to protect employees.

It cited four unnamed sources in the Geneva private banking industry as saying some banks were introducing total travel bans for staff, even for neighboring European countries.

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