Wednesday 9 December 2020 10:42 am

Dutch court to probe UBS boss over ING money laundering problems

UBS has backed its new chief executive Ralph Hamers after a Dutch court ordered an investigation into him relating to money laundering at ING, where he was CEO until earlier this year.

ING paid a €775m – or roughly £700m – settlement to Dutch prosecutors in 2018 after it failed to notice money laundering and criminal activity. The board was not charged with any crimes.

Yet some investors complained to the Dutch courts, arguing that more stringent action should be taken should be taken against Hamers, who was chief executive from 2013 until June this year. 

Delivering its final ruling after the third-party complaint, the Court of Appeal in The Hague upheld the 2018 settlement between prosecutors and ING. It said ING had acted to prevent further violations and acknowledged the serious problems at the bank.

Yet the court ordered the public prosecutor to open an investigation into Hamers’s role in ING’s anti-money laundering activities.

Chance of a ‘successful prosecution’

“The court is of the opinion that there are sufficient leads for a successful prosecution of this former director as the de facto supervisor of the criminal offenses committed by ING,” it said today in a public statement.

“The facts are serious, no settlement has been reached with the director himself, nor has he taken any public responsibility for his actions.”

Hamers joined UBS as chief executive in November this year. Today, the world’s biggest wealth manager backed its boss in a statement.

“UBS takes note of the decision of the Dutch court to order the public prosecutor to open an investigation of Ralph Hamers, in his capacity as the former CEO of ING,” it said. “UBS has full confidence in Ralph Hamers’ ability to lead UBS.”

ING said it welcomed the ruling that said no further action should be taken against the bank.

But it said: “We… regret the decision to order the prosecution of our former CEO, which goes against the assessment of the public prosecutors that, based on the investigation, there are no grounds for a case against ING employees or former employees.”