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UBS CEO faces personal probe as Dutch investigation into long-running ING banking scandal continues

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

THE FORMER head of ING – and current head of UBS – is under fire for his role in a major money laundering scandal which has previously seen the payment of €775 million penalty settlement.   

A formal prosecution and investigation was ordered by a Dutch court Wednesday into the conduct of Ralph Hamers during his time as CEO of ING – a role which he left in June 2020.   

The investigation will centre around the role Hamers played in ING’s failure to spot extensive instances of money laundering and other financial crimes committed by the bank’s clients.   

This failure landed the bank with a massive €775 million fine in 2018, but Hamers himself avoided a personal probe until now.   

“The facts are serious. No settlement was reached with the director himself, nor has he taken public responsibility for his actions,” the Dutch court ruled.   

“The court considers it important that, in a public criminal trial, the standard is confirmed that directors of a bank do not go unpunished if they have actually led serious prohibited behaviour.”  

Hamers is now CEO of Swiss investment bank UBS, which has since acknowledged the Dutch court’s actions but has remained steadfast in support.  

“I have full confidence in Ralph’s ability to lead our firm,” UBS Chairman Axel Weber told Reuters. “We were fully satisfied with the results of these independent evaluations and the assessment of the Dutch prosecutor at the time.”  

It is expected that Hamers will remain in his role as normal throughout the coming investigation. A suitable substitute will be installed should he be called away for extended questioning in the Netherlands.  

Following the initial penalty settlement in 2018, Dutch authorities remained hesitant about whether enough evidence was available to launch a personal investigation of Hamers, and the extent to which he knew about the flow of laundered money through his bank and didn’t act.   

The go-ahead came from the Dutch Appeals court, but it is unclear how long the investigation will last with some sources saying it may only be concluded in 2022.   

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