Swiss banks face CHF 6 billion losses from US fraud

15th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

Taken in by New York broker Bernard Madoff's alleged giant pyramid scheme, banks may lose as much as USD 58.9 billion, reports a Geneva newspaper.

GENEVA – Swiss bankers face losses of up to USD five billion (CHF 58.9 billion) from the failure of a pyramid scheme run by New York broker Bernard Madoff, a Geneva newspaper reported Saturday.

Le Temps said Union Bancaire Privee, a major asset management institution specialising in hedge funds, could be exposed to the tune of USD 1 billion.

UBP refused to comment on the report, which said that 90 percent of fund management companies operating in Geneva invested in Madoff products.

Le Temps said that Banque Benedict Hentsch could be in a particularly difficult position through its links to Fairfield Greenwich of the United States, which had half its assets with another fund, Fairfield Sentry, partially managed by Madoff.

It said Hentsch had acknowledged an exposure of EUR 35 million (CHF 55 million) out of the total 1.5 billion that it manages.

Le Temps and another daily, 24 hours, said that clients were unlikely to see their money again even if they tried every possible legal avenue.

Madoff was arrested Thursday after allegedly confessing to employees that he had been running a so-called Ponzi scheme, or pyramid fraud, which had collapsed with losses exceeding USD 50 billion.

He had told the US Securities and Exchange Commission this year that his private investor advisory business - the focus of the alleged pyramid scheme - was managing more than USD 7 billion in assets.

The implosion of the scheme was likely triggered when nervous clients asked to withdraw funds, as they have been demanding from hedge funds around the world.

[AFP / Expatica]

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