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Swiss bank caught in Venezuelan money-laundering scandal

As a Swiss bank gets slapped for breaching money-laundering rules, this sculpture in Caracas pays homage to the oil workers of Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). Keystone / Rayner Pena R

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has found that Banca Credinvest “seriously violated money-laundering regulations” in its handling of Venezuelan client relationships.

On Tuesday the watchdog announced that it had ordered the Ticino-based bank to monitor all private banking clients in order to identify and address any additional money-laundering risks.

In 2018 FINMA opened enforcement proceedings against the bank in the context of suspected corruption linked to Venezuelan oil company PDVSA. According to FINMA, the bank’s measures against money laundering and risk management were insufficient. In particular, it says the bank violated its due diligence obligations in the area of combating money laundering between 2013 and 2017.

The watchdog says Banca Credinvest insufficiently identified its customers and beneficial owners, insufficiently monitored the transactions of these customers, incompletely documented the processes and was too late in reporting suspicious facts to the authorities.

“In order to restore the orderly state of affairs” FINMA has now ordered various measures, which the bank has already begun to implement. Among other things, the bank must check all private banking clients for increased money-laundering risks.

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