GENEVA Jan 26 Switzerland's cabinet has twice
refused to accept the nomination of a British-born ex-UBS
banker as head of the financial market regulator,
hoping to see more competition for the role, a Swiss newspaper
reported on Sunday.
Mark Branson is leading the regulatory body, known as FINMA,
in an interim capacity after its chief executive Patrick
Raaflaub announced his departure earlier this month in a
surprise move at a pivotal time for the Swiss banking sector.
The Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper said FINMA's board of
directors had hoped to announce last week that Branson, the
deputy CEO, would take over.
But the Swiss cabinet has twice rejected his outright
appointment, preferring to first examine any alternative
candidates, on the recommendation of Finance Minister Eveline
Widmer-Schlumpf, who told the paper in an interview that she
wanted to see an open competition.
But she said it was ultimately up to the FINMA board to pick
the chief executive and the cabinet would approve the
Branson is seen as facing two obstacles: his nationality and
his past as a banker, which could prove a handicap, the paper
previously quoted a parliamentarian as 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 an investigation into how it
helped wealthy Americans dodge taxes, and handed over more than
4,000 sets of client data.
As head of FINMA, he is responsible for helping Swiss banks
to work with U.S. officials in a crackdown on wealthy Americans
The U.S. Justice Department has received 106 requests from
second-tier Swiss entities to participate in a U.S. settlement
programme aimed at ending a long-running investigation of
tax-dodging by Americans using Swiss bank accounts, a senior
U.S. government official said on Saturday.