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Swiss watchdog sanctions Gazmprombank over money laundering

Published on February 01, 2018

Switzerland's financial watchdog said Thursday that it has sanctioned the local subsidiary of Russia's Gazprombank following an anti-money laundering investigation triggered by the Panama Papers leaks.

Gazprombank Switzerland has been barred from taking on new clients after being “in serious breach of its anti-money laundering due diligence requirements in the period from 2006 to 2016”, Swiss watchdog FINMA said in a statement.

Switzerland opened probes into 30 banks following the release in 2016 of the so-called Panama Papers — a massive amount of data from a prominent Panamanian law firm showing how the world’s wealthy stash assets.

In an investigation that concluded last month, Gazprombank Switzerland was found to have committed a range of violations including sloppy risk assessments.

“The bank also failed to keep appropriate records of the transactions and relationships, and frequently did not validate the documentation it obtained”, FINMA said.

Gazprombank Switzerland broadly showed “serious shortcomings in the prevention of money laundering”, according to the watchdog.

Aside from a ban on expanding its business, FINMA also ordered Gazprombank Switzerland to set up a new risk committee.

The main Russian branch of Gazprombank is controlled by the Kremlin-controlled oil giant Gazprom.

FINMA said the conclusion of the Gazprombank probe marked the end of its investigations related to the Panama Papers.

The Swiss watchdog separately announced on Thursday that it had ordered Privatbank SA Lugano to hand over 1.3 million Swiss francs ($1.4 million, 1.1 million euros) in “unlawfully generated profits” through its dealings with the scandal tainted Brazilian companies Petrobras and Odebrecht.