Swiss private bank Falcon says not for sale

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ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s Falcon Private Bank is not up for sale, the bank said on Wednesday, knocking down a media report its new chief executive is under pressure to find a buyer days into the job.

“Falcon Private Bank is not and was not for sale,” the Zurich-based bank, owned by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC), said in a statement.

Swiss finance blog InsideParadeplatz on Wednesday reported its owners had given Chief Executive Walter Berchtold, in the job since Oct. 1, a directive to sell the bank.

The report cited Geneva-based Banque Heritage as a possible buyer. Falcon said it had never held talks with Heritage over a possible sale.

Banque Heritage was not immediately available for comment through an external communications representative. InsideParadeplatz’s author, Lukas Haessig, said he is standing by the story.

Falcon is under scrutiny in Singapore after the central bank disclosed in late July that an on-site inspection of the group in April 2016 found “substantial breaches” of anti-money laundering regulations.

Singapore said Falcon’s management of key client relationships were done from the bank’s head office in Switzerland and that the examination was still ongoing.

The inspection was part of Singapore’s money laundering probe linked to Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), under which the central bank has questioned several banks since last year.

Falcon owner IPIC is currently merging with fellow Abu Dhabi-owned investment fund Mubadala, as the emirate aims to consolidate in response to lower oil prices.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Adrian Croft