November 9, 2020

Swiss private bank reports settlement of corruption and money laundering investigation with DOJ

On November 9, 2020, Swiss private banking group Julius Baer Group Ltd. announced that it had reached an agreement in principle with the US Department of Justice to resolve a corruption investigation.  Julius Baer said that since 2015 it had been cooperating with the DOJ’s investigation, which focused on alleged money laundering and corruption involving members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and associated sports media and marketing companies.

According to Julius Baer, the terms of the settlement include a three-year deferred prosecution agreement and the payment of approximately $79.7 million.  The bank stated it had begun remediating in 2016, and steps included the re-documentation of the bank’s client relationships, discontinuing certain relationships, implementing an enhanced Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, and strengthening the company’s risk management. 

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) sanctioned Julius Baer on February 20, 2020, finding that the bank was deficient in its anti-money laundering program between 2009 and 2018.  As part of the resolution with FINMA, FINMA appointed an “independent auditor” to monitor the bank’s remediation.  The Swiss resolution also temporarily prohibited the bank from conducting “large and complex acquisitions,” required changes in the bank’s client recruitment and client management methods, and required Julius Baer’s board of directors to give greater focus to its AML responsibilities.  

Julius Baer press release