UBS Warns Employees on Possible Tighter Crypto Trading Rules

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UBS Group AG may require staff to seek approval before trading cryptocurrencies in their personal accounts, bringing its policy on whipsawing virtual money into line with its rules on dealing other securities.

“At present the Global Policy on Personal Investment is silent on cryptocurrencies and thus disclosure and pre-clearance is not required” in most cases, UBS told staff this week in a memo seen by Bloomberg and confirmed by the Zurich-based lender. The bank is considering implementing “additional rules and requirements," including an obligation for staff to seek permission before trading, the memo said.

Axel Weber in Davos.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

UBS Chairman Axel Weber last week followed executives from BlackRock Inc. and Bridgewater Associates expressing skepticism toward cryptocurrencies, warning of a potentially “massive” drop in Bitcoin’s value if there’s a regulatory clampdown. The Swiss bank won’t trade or offer it to retail clients, he said.

“We fear that in the future, if these investments implode and the market corrects, then investors will be looking at ‘who sold us this?’," he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Bitcoin has fallen more than 50 percent from its mid-December peak. It declined more than $1,000 to below $8,000 on Friday.

UBS is among other banks stepping up scrutiny over its employees dealings with cryptocurrencies. Nordea Bank AB has imposed a ban for its employees to trade Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies due to a lack of regulation in the area. Many banks have also stayed away from offering cryptocurrency trades for their clients, including Credit Suisse Group AG.

(Adds Nordea ban in sixth paragraph.)
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