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UBS shareholders approve bonus increases

Shareholders at Swiss bank UBS have approved a report on controversial bonus increases for the past fiscal year.

At Wednesday’s annual general meeting of the bank in Basel 54.7 per cent of shareholders voted to accept the report, with 39.4 per cent against and 5.8 per cent abstaining.

Earlier the bank’s chairman, former Swiss cabinet minister Kaspar Villiger, said UBS had lost entire investment teams and their clients to rival banks last year after cutting back too much on bonus payments.

He said the higher bonuses are needed to ensure competitiveness, with many of the bank’s best staff still being headhunted.

Villiger also said the bank’s board would stick to its proposal to absolve former top executives of responsibility for “the debacle” which saw UBS post record losses of SFr21 billion ($19.9 billion) in 2008 and require a government bailout.

He said any legal action against former chairmen Marcel Ospel and Peter Kurer would likely be a waste of time and money, while acknowledging public demands for accountability.

Villiger said UBS remained “very concerned” about its unresolved tax evasion problems in the United States.

The US and Swiss governments agreed last year that UBS would hand over the names of 4,450 American customers suspected of tax crimes. But the deal has been held up by the Swiss courts, which say it is incompatible with strict banking secrecy laws. It has been referred back to the Swiss parliament for a vote in June. and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR