Strategy

Julius Baer Shutters Panama, Peru Operations

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, October 24, 2018

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The Swiss bank joins some of its international peers in cutting some Latin American operations.

Julius Baer is closing offices in Panama and Peru as part of a strategic review of Latin American operations, this publication can confirm. This move follows similar exits from the continent by groups such as Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management and HSBC.

Bankers and support staff serving clients in these countries are moving to the Bahamas, Chile and Switzerland, a spokesperson told Family Wealth Report. The bank said it is committed to these clients and the wider region.

The Swiss bank wants to focus on faster-growing, larger Latin American markets such as in Brazil, where it bought local wealth firm Reliance earlier this year. At the start of the year it bought 95 per cent of that business.

The the changes affect six relationship managers and support staff, and completes the review by Beatriz Sanchez, who now heads the bank’s Latin American unit.

In April 2015, HSBC pulled out of Brazil, while in 2013 RBC closed its operations in Uruguay, in order to focus on what it regarded as higher-growth and more profitable markets.

A report in the Financial Times (of London) yesterday said that a former a former employee of the bank in Panama has been arrested in the US and convicted for laundering money embezzled from Venezuela’s state oil company. Matthias Krull, the German banker at the centre of Venezuelan scandal, worked for the bank in Panama when he participated in a scheme to launder $1.2 billion that was stolen from Petróleos de Venezuela, the FT said. 

This publication understands that Julius Baer has been looking to change its operations in Latin America for some time.

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