China fines UniCredit AG unit $1.5 million for embezzlement

FILE PHOTO: Unicredit bank logo is seen on a banner downtown Milan, Italy, May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s banking and insurance regulator said on Tuesday it fined an onshore branch of Italy’s UniCredit Bank AG [UCCDB.UL] 10.3 million yuan ($1.50 million) for embezzlement.

A UniCredit employee transferred “a huge amount” of clients’ money to external accounts without authorization, according to a statement issued by the Shanghai bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) on its website.

UniCredit did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The embezzlement involved using a supervisor’s password to access clients’ accounts, indicating the bank’s “severe loopholes on risk management and internal controls” and “insufficient prevention on moral hazard”, the regulator said.

The employee has been barred from the banking business for life, the then president of the branch has been barred from senior management roles for two years, and the branch was fined, according to the statement.

The Italian bank entered the Chinese market in 1982 and has one office and two banking branches operating onshore.

Reporting by Cheng Leng and Ryan Woo in BEIJING; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise