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WEALTH

Julius Bär invests in new Italian bank

Julius Bär, the Zurich-based private bank, is joining forces with Kairos Investment Management in Italy to establish a new private bank.

Julius Bär invests in new Italian bank
Photo: Sporst

The Swiss bank announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with Kairos to create a new “onshore wealth management player”.

The Italian wealth manager has around €4.5 billion of assets under management.

Julius Bär said it plans to integrate its Italian SIM subsidiary into Kairos, while taking a 19.9-percent share of Kairos.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first half of 2013.

Separately the partners have agreed to apply for a banking licence after the deal is closed.

Under the agreement all Italian wealth management activities of the two groups will be run under the name Kairos Julius Bär.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The Swiss bank said the deal will “significantly strengthen Julius Bär’s long-term position in Italy”.

Meanwhile, the bank showed another aspect of its Italian connection in Geneva on Friday when it sponsored a gala event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of movie producer Carlo Ponti.

The event at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices also honoured Italian actress Sophia Loren, who appeared with her two sons.

Loren, 78, a resident of Geneva, was married to Ponti, who died in Geneva in 2007 at the age of 95.

At the event she credited Ponti, whom she met when she was 16, for helping fulfill a dream she could have never fulfilled alone, Le Matin newspaper reported.

The private event was attended by 450 guests, according to the report.

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MONEY LAUNDERING

Swiss bank exec pleads guilty in $1.2 bn Venezuelan laundering scam

A former Swiss bank manager pleaded guilty in a US court on Wednesday for his role in a $1.2 billion money laundering scheme involving Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, the Justice Department announced.

Swiss bank exec pleads guilty in $1.2 bn Venezuelan laundering scam
Matthias Krull is a former employee of Swiss private bank Julius Bär. File photo: AFP

Matthias Krull, 44, a German national and Panamanian resident, was one of a ring of conspirators and he admitted the scam began in late 2014 with “a currency exchange scheme that was designed to embezzle around $600 million from PDVSA,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

PDVSA was the crown jewel of Venezuela's imploding economy and remains virtually the only source of hard currency for the embattled government. But it also has made the company a target of theft and graft.

The Justice Department said the stolen fund were “obtained through bribery and fraud.”

The conspiracy in 201 doubled to $1.2 billion in funds embezzled from PDVSA. Krull, at the time a banker with Switzerland's Julius Bär private bank, became involved in 2016 when another member of the ring asked him to help launder the proceeds. 

They used Florida real estate and “sophisticated false-investment schemes to conceal that the $1.2 billion was in fact embezzled from PDVSA,” the statement said.

He pleaded guilty in a Florida court to conspiracy to commit money laundering. He is scheduled to be sentenced October 29th.

Krull's co-conspirators “include former PDVSA officials, professional third-party money launderers, and members of the Venezuelan elite, sometimes known as 'boliburgues.'”

US authorities arrested Krull in Miami last month, while Gustavo Hernandez Frieri, a Colombian, was arrested in Italy and is awaiting extradition.

The Venezuelans indicted in the case are Francisco Convit, shareholder of energy company Derwick Associates; Carmelo Urdaneta, former petroleum and mining ministry legal advisor; Abraham Ortega, ex-PDVSA staffer; and Jose Vicente “Chente” Amparan, a businessman and “professional money launderer” with links to Spain and Malta.

Venezuela's economic freefall continues, with hyperinflation expected to soar to one million percent, according to the International Monetary Fund.

On Tuesday, President Nicolas Maduro introduced a new currency, dropping five zeros and devaluing the “sovereign bolivars” by 96 percent.