Hanspeter Brunner, 64 headed the Asian operations of BSI SA whose biggest client was 1MDB.

PETALING JAYA: Hanspeter Brunner, 64 who has headed the Asian operations of Swiss bank BSI SA, has “decided to retire”, according to an official statement issued by the bank, Tuesday.

No specific reason was given for his decision to step down, the Wall Street Journal reported, other than to say that Brunner’s responsibilities would be handed to its Head of Private Banking Asia Raj Sriram.

Enjoying a wide Italian client base in Switzerland, BSI tasked Brunner with expanding the bank’s market share in Asia when he joined them in 2009, a job he did exceptionally well, having earned the bank’s praise for increasing the number of employees to 280 from only 50 over a short period of just 18 months.

One of the bank’s biggest clients in Asia, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), did however become embroiled in controversy, sparking investigations of alleged corruption in both Singapore, where Brunner was based as a member of the BSI board, and in Switzerland.

“BSI hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing in those investigations,” the WSJ reported.

In January this year, the Swiss Attorney-General said investigations thus far revealed the likely misappropriation of USD4 billion involving 1MDB and Malaysian state-owned companies.

Representatives of 1MDB have however denied any wrongdoing and stated their willingness to cooperate with authorities.

Last year Singapore police informed Malaysian authorities of transfers amounting to over USD500 million made between 2011 and 2013 from an entity tied to 1MDB into a BSI account, which the investment company did admit to owning.

The WSJ was unable to obtain a comment from either BSI or 1MDB on the matter.


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