On Tuesday, October 22, Swiss multinational investment bank UBS lifted its travel advisory to China. UBS had previously advised its wealth managers to run travel plans to China through their managers first, before departing for mainland China, in the light of a Singaporean UBS relationship manager being disallowed to fly back to Singapore from Beijing last week.
The banker might have violated stringent Chinese onshore regulations, which declare illegal the marketing and sale of offshore financial products, according to finews.asia.
UBS had earlier sent an internal memo asking regional private banking advisors to temporarily cancel their plans to fly to China until the matter of the Singaporean woman was resolved.
The woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, had come to China to give advice to a wealthy Chinese client. She had not been allowed to fly out of Beijing last Friday, pending a meeting with Chinese officials.
She was reportedly asked to call a certain phone number at the Beijing International Airport, and when she did so, was informed that officials from another Chinese city had asked to talk to her before she left the country.
The woman went back to her hotel and was able to move about freely last weekend, intending to fly to the other city in question this week.
An unnamed source said that the woman was not told that she and UBS were being investigated.
The names of her clients in China have not been disclosed to the public.
A statement published in The Financial Times read, “UBS would like to confirm that we allow all our staff to travel freely in and out of the country and it is business as usual for us in China. UBS has had a strong franchise in China for 30 years and remains fully committed to further developing our business on the mainland.”
The bank has remained tight-lipped as to where the female banker is at the moment.
UBS is the number one wealth manager in Asia with $383 billion (CHF351 billion) under management.
After UBS had issued it’s travel advisory, other big banks followed suit, such as Citigroup, Standard Chartered, BNP Paribas and JP Morgan.
China is a major battleground for international private banks, with a new Chinese billionaire emerging every two days, according to UBS. A report from Credit Suisse last week said that the total wealth in China had grown to $51.9 trillion this century, rising more than 1,300 percent, faster than any other country. UBS was the first Swiss bank to stake a claim in the Asia-Pacific region way back in 1964, and is currently in talks to acquire a majority stake in a Chinese securities joint venture.