Julius Baer Hires Private Bankers From BSI in SingaporeBy and
Staff said to specialize in non-resident Indian clients
Singapore withdrew BSI’s local licence in May for 1MDB links
Swiss private bank Julius Baer Group Ltd. is pushing ahead with a recruitment drive in Asia, hiring close to 20 Singapore-based bankers from BSI SA, the wealth manager caught up in the scandal surrounding 1Malaysia Development Bhd., according to a person familiar with the matter.
The BSI bankers joining Julius Baer specialize in managing the wealth of non-resident Indians, the person said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. The Monetary Authority of Singapore said in May it is withdrawing BSI’s local license following an investigation into its dealings with 1MDB, the Malaysian fund which is at the center of global probes into alleged corruption and money laundering.
A representative from Julius Baer in Hong Kong declined to comment, as did Daniela Haesler, a spokeswoman for EFG International AG in Zurich, the private bank which recently acquired BSI. 1MDB has consistently denied wrongdoing.
Like fellow Swiss banks UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Julius Baer has stepped up its hiring of wealth managers in Asia, lured by the growing number of the region’s rich. Asia-Pacific household wealth grew 4.5 percent to just under $80 trillion in the 12 months through June this year, the fastest growth of any region, according to Credit Suisse’s annual global wealth report published on Tuesday.
More than half of about 200 new bankers being added this year will be based in Asia, Julius Baer Chief Executive Officer Boris Collardi said in a September interview. Among the other hires this year are Bhaskar Laxminarayan, who joined in September as Julius Baer’s Singapore-based Asia chief investment officer from Pictet Wealth Management, and Angela Bow, who joined in May from Credit Suisse as head of emerging Asia.
The bankers joining from BSI were subjected to the usual compliance checks before they started work with Julius Baer, according to the person familiar with the matter. Eight are relationship managers and the rest are support staff, the person added.
EFG said earlier this month it had finalized the purchase of BSI from Brazil’s BTG Pactual SA for a preliminary price of 1.06 billion Swiss francs ($1.07 billion), down from the 1.33 billion francs it expected to pay when the deal was announced in February. EFG said the lower value included a discount to reflect the client money outflows recorded by BSI. Client withdrawals were “particularly influenced by the announcements relating to the Malaysia matter in May,” EFG said in a statement.
Former BSI banker Yak Yew Chee was found guilty in a Singapore court earlier this month of four charges related to 1MDB, including forging documents and failing to disclose suspicious transactions. Another of Yak’s former colleagues, Yeo Jiawei, is currently on trial for obstructing justice by attempting to tamper with witnesses in the 1MDB probe.
Julius Baer has also hired four relationship managers specialized in non-resident Indians from BSI in Hong Kong, the person said.
— With assistance by Giles Broom