New UBS boss faces money laundering probe from old job

A Dutch probe will examine whether Hamers and other ING managers at the time should be responsible for the offences. Keystone / Walter Bieri

Ralph Hamers, who took over as CEO of Swiss bank UBS last month, is facing a criminal investigation in the Netherlands to determine his role in alleged money laundering offences at his old bank ING.

This content was published on December 9, 2020 - 12:55

Dutch prosecutors have decided to reopen a case that ING had settled out of court in 2018, paying €775 million (CHF835 million). This was the largest penalty ever paid in the Netherlands for money laundering offences, but the case is being examined again as investors were unhappy with the settlement.

Hamers was CEO of ING from 2013 until the summer of this year, following a long career at the bank that began in 1991. In February, UBS announced that the Dutch national would take over from CEO Sergio Ermotti from November 1.

Switzerland’s largest bank issued a statement on Wednesday, saying that it retains “full confidence in Ralph Hamers’ ability to run UBS”. Chairman Axel Weber also backed Hamers in a message sent to employees that was viewed by the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.

In the message, Weber said the bank had thoroughly reviewed the earlier money laundering proceedings, which appeared to have ended in 2018, and was satisfied with the “assessments of the Dutch national prosecutor at the time”.

In re-initiating criminal proceedings, a Dutch court said it must examine the responsibility of ING at the time.

UBS is no stranger to money laundering and tax evasion proceedings itself and is currently appealing a €3.7 billion penalty imposed by a Paris court last year, in a case that has no connection to the ING probe.

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