UBP Pays $187 Million to End Tax Dispute; Asia Expansion on Track

Union Bancaire Privée in Geneva

Union Bancaire Privée in Geneva

Geneva-based Union Bancaire Privée has signed a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to end the dispute about services rendered by Swiss banks to U.S. tax dodgers.

Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) will pay $187.8 million to the U.S. authorities, a fine covered by the provision taken earlier and by an allocation of a portion of the bank’s 2015 profit, the bank said in a statement on Wednesday. The agreement brings an end to a process that began in 2013 in which UBP filed as a category II bank.

Planned Expansion in Asia

In a statement the bank assured clients that the substantial penalty payment did not affect the capital adequacy of UBP, which continues to be one of the best-capitalized banks in Switzerland.

Following this transaction, UBP intends to focus entirely on developing its asset management services to private and institutional clients, as well as on its expansion in Asia following the recent acquisition of Coutts international business.

Secure Banking Licence in Hong Kong

One of the main remaining integration tasks for UBP in Asia is to secure its banking licence in Hong Kong. The target to obtain this is the first quarter of 2016, while the ongoing business integration is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2016, once the firm obtains the Hong Kong licence.

The Coutts acquisition will boost UBP's assets under management by about 30 percent to 130 billion Swiss francs, with the bank estimating it could retain around 60 to 70 percent of the existing client base.

Relocation to Asia

Coutts is the bank's fourth purchase in five years, having snapped up the Swiss operations of banks such as ABN Amro and Lloyds Banking Group.

Once UBP completes its acquisition of Coutts in Asia, Michael Blake, the former chief executive officer of Coutts will relocate to the region to head the firm.

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