Bank Audi In Switzerland Was Just Forced To Give Up Millions In “Illegally Generated” Profits

Bank Audi
REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Switzerland’s financial watchdog, FINMA, revealed that Banque Audi (Suisse) SA, a part of the prominent Lebanese banking conglomerate, violated its anti-money laundering obligations and breached financial market regulations.

This breach led FINMA to order the bank to return profits of 3.9 million Swiss Francs ($4.34 million) and impose an additional capital surcharge of 19 million Francs.

Despite these penalties, FINMA acknowledged the bank’s cooperation during the enforcement process and its efforts to rectify compliance issues.

FINMA initiated the investigation into Bank Audi following a corruption inquiry into Riad Salameh, the former longstanding governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank.

Salameh, facing allegations of embezzling over $330 million in public funds, resigned from his position amid mounting legal challenges.

He is subject to criminal investigations in multiple jurisdictions, including Switzerland, France, and Germany, where warrants for his arrest have been issued.

In response to FINMA’s findings, Banque Audi was directed to repay illegally obtained profits exposed to individuals or high-risk corporate clients for the ensuing two years.

Additionally, the bank was prohibited from establishing new relationships with politically exposed individuals or high-risk corporate clients for two years.

Despite internal reforms agreed upon by the bank, some high-risk client relationships persisted, as noted by FINMA.

Banque Audi refrained from commenting on the matter when approached for a response, while staff members responsible for the sanctioned transactions have since left Switzerland.

Related: Bank Audi Reportedly Closed More Than 30 British-held Accounts

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