(Adds comment from FINMA spokesman)
ZURICH Jan 19 A British-born former UBS
banker is tipped to lead Switzerland's financial
regulator after the current head's surprise exit, reported
Schweiz am Sonntag, citing undisclosed sources.
Mark Branson, named temporary head of FINMA when Chief
Executive Patrick Raaflaub stepped down suddenly last Wednesday,
is favored by the regulator's board and the outgoing CEO to take
over permanently, the paper said.
A spokesman for FINMA said the search to replace Raaflaub as
CEO was under way, and declined further comment.
Branson faces two obstacles to clinch the top job: his
nationality - which will play a role in the politically charged
nomination process - and his past as a banker, which could prove
a handicap, the paper quoted one parliamentarian saying.
Branson led UBS in Japan at a time when the Swiss bank's
traders there manipulated benchmark interest rates, for which it
was fined $1.5 billion by regulators in 2012. Branson himself
was later cleared by the Swiss regulator.
He was also the public face of UBS in 2009 when he testified
to a U.S. Senate committee about tax evasion. The Zurich lender
later paid $780 million to settle a wide-ranging probe into how
it helped wealthy Americans dodge taxes, and handed over more
than 4,000 sets of client data.
That probe prompted a second wave of investigation by U.S.
officials, ensnaring Credit Suisse, Julius Baer
and several local government-backed banks.
Though Branson spent ten years at UBS and worked for Credit
Suisse before that, has settled in Bern and speaks at least one
Swiss language, it is unclear whether a British national as
financial overseer would be politically acceptable.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Sophie Walker)