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Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The Swiss financial regulator is probing the role played by Banque Privee Espirito Santo SA’s owners and whether the lender breached rules in selling investments linked to the Portuguese financial group.

“The focus of the investigation is the distribution of securities and financial products of the Espirito Santo Group,” the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, or Finma, said today in a statement. “The influence of the owners of the bank on procedures in Switzerland will also be examined,” Finma said.

Finma’s probe follows similar inquiries in Portugal, where regulators are investigating the sale of securities involving Banco Espirito Santo SA and how the group’s companies helped fund each other. Banco Espirito Santo was bailed out last month after losses on loans to units of the group created a capital shortfall.

The company “will collaborate closely with Finma within the bounds of this procedure,” Banque Privee Espirito Santo, based in Pully, said in an e-mailed statement.

The Swiss banking unit, now in liquidation, in July sold a large part of its client assets to CBH Cie. Bancaire Helvetique SA.

--With assistance from Joao Lima in Lisbon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at jvogeli@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elisa Martinuzzi at emartinuzzi@bloomberg.net Edward Evans

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