UK regulators fined Swiss private bank Julius Baer more than £18m for improper dealings with Russian companies dating back more than a decade.

The Financial Conduct Authority said it was fining the Swiss private bank’s subsidiary Julius Baer International for “failing to conduct business with integrity, failing to take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs and failing to be open and co-operative with the FCA.”

The FCA said Julius Baer companies paid finder’s fees to an employee of defunct Russian oil company Yukos Group, Dimitri Merinson, with the understanding that Yukos would place cash with Julius Baer.

Uncommercial foreign-exchange transactions were also made in which Yukos was charged higher-than-standard rates, the FCA added. Merinson received commission payments totalling approximately $3m as a result of these arrangements, it said.

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JBI became aware of the nature of these transactions in 2012 but didn’t report the matter to the FCA until July 2014, the agency said.

“These fees were improper and together with the uncommercial FX transactions showed a lack of integrity in the way in which JBI was undertaking this business,” the FCA said in a statement.

The FCA also banned three bankers — Gustavo Raitzin, Thomas Seiler and Louise Whitestone — who will appeal their cases.

Julius Baer partially agreed liability, which reduced what would have been a fine of £24.5m, the authority added.

Write to Ed Frankl at edward.frankl@dowjones.com

This article was published by MarketWatch, a fellow Dow Jones Group title

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