cabinet blocked Branson from heading finance regulator: paper
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[January 27, 2014]
GENEVA (Reuters) — Switzerland's
cabinet has twice refused to accept the nomination of a British-born
ex-UBS <UBSN.VX> banker as head of the financial market regulator,
hoping to see more competition for the role, a Swiss newspaper
reported on Sunday.
Mark Branson is leading the regulatory body, known as FINMA, in an
interim capacity after its chief executive Patrick Raaflaub
announced his departure earlier this month in a surprise move at a
pivotal time for the Swiss banking sector.
The Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper said FINMA's board of directors had
hoped to announce last week that Branson, the deputy CEO, would take
But the Swiss cabinet has twice rejected his outright appointment,
preferring to first examine any alternative candidates, on the
recommendation of Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, who told
the paper in an interview that she wanted to see an open
But she said it was ultimately up to the FINMA board to pick the
chief executive and the cabinet would approve the appointment.
Branson is seen as facing two obstacles: his nationality and his
past as a banker, which could prove a handicap, the paper previously
quoted a parliamentarian as saying.
Branson led UBS in Japan at a time when the Swiss bank's traders
there manipulated benchmark interest rates, for which it was fined
$1.5 billion by regulators in 2012. Branson himself was later
cleared by the Swiss regulator.
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He was also the public face of UBS in 2009 when he testified to a
U.S. Senate committee about tax evasion. The Zurich lender later
paid $780 million to settle an investigation into how it helped
wealthy Americans dodge taxes, and handed over more than 4,000 sets
of client data.
As head of FINMA, he is responsible for helping Swiss banks to work
with U.S. officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans evading
The U.S. Justice Department has received 106 requests from
second-tier Swiss entities to participate in a U.S. settlement
program aimed at ending a long-running investigation of tax-dodging
by Americans using Swiss bank accounts, a senior U.S. government
official said on Saturday.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by
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