Credit Suisse case 'won't hurt Singapore's reputation': Experts

Credit Suisse Office at One Raffles Link, Singapore. Industry experts say Singapore's status as a financial hub will survive news that a private banker here allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars from a customer's account. -- PHOTO: CRE
Credit Suisse Office at One Raffles Link, Singapore. Industry experts say Singapore's status as a financial hub will survive news that a private banker here allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars from a customer's account. -- PHOTO: CREDIT SUISSE

Incidents of bank staff stealing clients' money rare, say financial experts

Industry experts say Singapore's status as a financial hub will survive news that a private banker here allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars from a customer's account.

Swiss news website Inside Paradeplatz reported in an online article on Tuesday that a former private banker from Credit Suisse Singapore had swiped as much as US$13 million (S$16 million) from a customer's account over six years.

The Straits Times understands that the woman, who is said to be in her 30s, has been dismissed and the police are investigating although no charges have been filed.

The customer has also been informed and sources say Credit Suisse has put in place more controls to enhance client protection.

The police said it would be inappropriate to comment.

CIMB economist Song Seng Wun said while this incident may come as a shock, it is unlikely to dent Singapore's reputation as a credible wealth management hub.

"If we were to see persistent recurrences of such cases, then yes, that could hurt Singapore's status as a financial centre but so far, these incidents have been few and far between."

Aberdeen Asset Management managing director Hugh Young agreed, noting that "bankers have done it everywhere".

"It shouldn't happen and there should be systems in place but unfortunately, these things do happen," he said.

Cases in Singapore have indeed been rare.

In 2011, a former OCBC relationship manager was jailed for seven years for siphoning $4.8 million over three years from the accounts of three clients.

Last year, a Singaporean banker working in Shanghai was held in custody for almost three months on suspicion of abetting a bank client who absconded with millions of dollars in state funds.

In May this year, the chief cashier at Standard Chartered's Serangoon Gardens branch was charged with taking $500,000 from the bank over a five-month period.

YASMINE YAHYA