Commerzbank offloads Swiss private bank to LGT, avoiding row with Berlin

GERMANY&rsquo;S Commerzbank has reached a deal to sell the Swiss private banking arm of Dresdner Bank to Liechtenstein&rsquo;s LGT Group, the bank that was embroiled in a tax evasion probe last year.<br /><br />The transaction, at an undisclosed price, will double LGT&rsquo;s assets under management in Switzerland to just under Sfr20bn (&pound;11.4bn), bringing total assets to around Sfr87bn.<br /><br />Commerzbank, which took &euro;18bn in state funding, is thought to have earmarked the unit for sale to avoid a row with Berlin, which is keen to clamp down on Switzerland&rsquo;s status as a tax haven.<br /><br />German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck hinted earlier this year that he wanted to prevent the country&rsquo;s state-backed banks from operating in tax havens.<br /><br />LGT was at the centre of a row over tax evasion last year, when Berlin paid a former employee of the bank to access client data, prompting a flurry of clients withdrawing their funds.<br /><br />Glen Moreno, acting chair of UK Financial Investments &ndash; which manages bank stakes for the UK government &ndash; was drawn into the row when it emerged that he was a former trustee of LGT.