* Court says PostFinance compliance was inadequate
* Swiss Post arm says it will appeal the decision
ZURICH, April 21 (Reuters) - PostFinance became the first Swiss financial company to be convicted of money laundering when a court found its controls were inadequate after it let a client withdraw a large sum of money just a day after depositing it.
The court said on Wednesday compliance procedures at the group, an arm of the Swiss postal service, were inadequate when it allowed the client, due to be tried for embezzlement later in the year, to withdraw 4.6 million Swiss francs ($5.18 million).
The court fined PostFinance 250,000 francs, around a tenth of the fine requested by the prosecution, for its role in the events, which took place in November 2005. PostFinance has said it will appeal against the decision.
“We refute the judgement, and think the organisational basis for combating money laundering at PostFinance were adequate at the time of this payment,” said PostFinance spokesman Marc Andrey.
“PostFinance has acknowledged the ruling and is waiting to receive it in written form. We will then analyse it and will appeal it at a higher court,” Andrey said.
PostFinance said the client was acting for a Swiss financial intermediary B.E.Creative, and said he was withdrawing the money to buy precious stones. B.E.Creative was later charged with embezzling the assets of its clients.
Andrey said the client had a permit from the Swiss authority responsible for preventing money laundering, and so there was no indication the money he deposited came from illegal activities. ($1=.8876 Swiss Franc) (Reporting by Martin de Sa’Pinto; Editing by Will Waterman)