/regulation & compliance

News and resources on regulation, compliance, legal and governance issues for banks and fintechs.
Swiss watchdog winds up challenger bank FlowBank

Swiss watchdog winds up challenger bank FlowBank

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) is opening bankruptcy proceedings against investment banking challenger FlowBank following serious and repeated breaches of its capital requirements.

FlowBank offers online brokerage and trading with its head office in Geneva and subsidiaries in London and the Bahamas. It holds over 22,000 client accounts and employs around 140 staff worldwide.

The Swiss regulator says the wind-up proceedings have been taken to protect depositors amid fears that the bank is over indebted.

Finma took its first enforcement action against FlowBank in October 2021 when it identified serious breaches of supervisory law, specifically with regard to capital requirements, the requirement for an adequate organisation and risk management. In October 2022 the watchdog ordered wide-ranging measures to restore compliance with the law and appointed an independent auditor to monitor their implementation.

As the problems at the bank began to mount, Finma installed an independent monitor to to oversee the bank’s activities and investigate its compliance failures. The monitor reported that FlowBank repeatedly breached the capital requirements, while its organisation remained deficient in various areas of the bank.

The bank’s bookkeeping and financial reporting was found to be inaccurate and incomplete. The bank, which runs on a Temenos core banking platform, also failed to fulfil disclosure and reporting obligations to Finma.

In addition, the investigation found that the bank entered into numerous higher-risk business relationships and processed large transactions without properly running AML checks.

Finma ordered the withdrawal of the bank's licence in March and began insolvency proceeedings after the bank released its 2023 financial statements which indicated that it was "clearly" in breach of the minimum capital requirements at the end of 2023 and again at the end of April 2024.

Finma has appointed the law firm Walder Wyss AG as liquidator to carry out the bankruptcy proceedings. In a first step the liquidator will repay deposits up to CHF 100,000 to the bank's clients. According to current calculations, the privileged deposits can be repaid in full out of the bank’s available funds without recourse to the Swiss banks’ deposit insurance scheme. Client custody accounts will also be segregated from the estate and repaid.

Comments: (0)