Heritage Banque executive handed Swiss fine over Petrobras failings

18 January 2018 12:25pm
Swiss Flag

16 January 2018. By Rodrigo Russo & Martin Coyle.

An executive at Swiss wealth manager Heritage Banque has become the country's first banker to be penalized over failures related to Brazil’s widespread corruption investigation known as Lava Jato.

The executive, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was fined 30,000 Swiss francs ($31,200) in December by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court. The fine, which was only made public this week, was halved to 15,000 francs following an appeal.

The executive was penalized for failing to notify Swiss regulators about suspicious money transfers by former Petróleo Brasileiro executive Nestor Cerveró, who was jailed in Brazil in 2015 for corruption offenses.

The Swiss court found that the Heritage executive failed to prevent Cerveró transferring almost $200,000 out of his bank account between December 2014 and January 2015 despite the fact that he was under investigation by the Brazilian authorities.

This breached Swiss money-laundering regulations, the Swiss court ruled. The executive acted negligently, the court said, but it added that the offense was “mild to moderate.” It could have levied a fine of up to 150,000 Swiss francs.

The bank did eventually report the issue to Swiss regulators after the Cerveró investigation was reported in Brazil’s media. The bank didn’t respond to a request for comment today.

Swiss prosecutors told MLex in November they were considering bringing criminal charges against Swiss banks linked to widespread corruption allegations involving Petrobras.

Swiss banks have been heavily linked to Brazil’s Lava Jato case. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland began investigating allegations of bribery linked to Petrobras in 2014. It has seized around one billion Swiss francs linked to Brazilian corruption probes, returning 200 million francs to Brazil.

The executive’s lawyer declined to comment, as did Switzerland’s Federal Department of Finance and its financial regulator Finma.

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