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UBS defends criticism of banking laws

The management of Swiss bank UBS has defended its critical view of new banking regulations.

At the bank’s annual general meeting in Basel on Thursday, UBS chairman Kaspar Villiger said the bank wasn’t threatening to pull some of its business out of Switzerland, but he pointed to consequences if the country went it alone for a long period of time.

He rejected the argument that UBS wasn’t in a position to criticise the so-called too-big-to-fail regulation since it was responsible for the whole financial mess in the first place.

First, he said, the current UBS board wasn’t responsible, and second, he had the right to express his opinion if he believed a piece of regulation to be unsatisfactory and its consequences underestimated.

UBS chief executive Oswald Grübel told more than 2,000 shareholders he was happy to see the trust shown by customers in the bank, highlighting the net inflow of new money from January to March which totalled SFr22.3 billion ($25.5 billion). This compared with the SFr7.1 billion that came in during the previous quarter.

In February, Grübel said UBS would consider moving parts of its business away from Switzerland if tough new Swiss regulations left the bank at a competitive disadvantage.

He complained that in the future there would probably be an uneven playing field in the global banking regulatory system. Different countries are applying their own set of rules to help avoid another financial meltdown – with Switzerland setting the most demanding conditions.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR