(Bloomberg) -- Julius Baer International Ltd. was hit with an £18 million ($21.6 million) penalty by the UK financial watchdog for enabling “corrupt” finders-fee type arrangements.
The UK branch of the Swiss firm was fined by the Financial Conduct Authority for a series of shortcomings including that it failed to conduct its business with integrity and failed to be open with the watchdog.
The FCA concluded that the firm facilitated finders-fee payments in order to set up introductions between Bank Julius Baer and the Yukos Group of companies so that the Russian firms would “place large cash sums” with the bank. One Yukos staff member received “improper” commission payments totaling approximately $3 million as a result of these arrangements, the FCA said.
The firm became aware of the transactions as early as 2012, but failed to inform the FCA until 2014.
“There were obvious signs that the relationships here were corrupt, which senior individuals saw and ignored,” said Mark Steward, the FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight.
Julius Baer agreed to settle the case early and qualified for a discount of the fine.
“We deeply regret the serious failings and apologize for the shortcomings that occurred at JBI between 2009 and 2014,” David Durlacher, chief executive officer of Julius Baer International, said. “We have taken full responsibility for these historical failings and made complete restitution to our client.”
The FCA is also pursuing cases against three former Julius Baer staff. They are all appealing the findings in a London court.
--With assistance from Marion Halftermeyer.
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