UBS bankers face UK probe on past mistakes and standards

ZURICH (REUTERS) - UBS' investment banking and risk management bosses will be quizzed by British lawmakers on Wednesday on standards and controls at the Swiss bank after a string of scandals.

Mr Andrea Orcel, investment bank chief executive since November after joining as co-CEO in July, heads a trio of executives who will appear before a parliamentary commission after UBS was fined US$1.5 billion (S$1.84 billion) last month for rigging Libor interest rates.

In recent years, UBS has also been hit by a US$2.3 billion rogue trading loss, about US$50 billion of US mortgage-related losses and a damaging tax avoidance row with the authorities in the United States.

Mr Orcel will be joined by chief risk officer Philip Lofts and Andrew Williams, global head of compliance.

UBS' Libor fine was the second biggest financial fine ever on a bank and more than three times the penalty imposed on Barclays in June for the same offence, an event that prompted Britain to set up its inquiry, the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS).

Mr Orcel - previously at Merrill Lynch where he was slammed for taking a US$34 million pay package in 2008 after advising on the disastrous RBS-led takeover of ABN Amro - is leading a business that saw 10,000 jobs axed and a retreat from fixed income announced on the day he took the helm in November.

Some analysts say the revamp may not have gone far enough. UBS may need to axe another 2,000 to 3,000 investment banking jobs this year, Deutsche Bank analysts estimated on Tuesday.

Mr Orcel will likely tell lawmakers the restructuring not only cut costs but also simplified the business and made it less risky, cutting the threat of new scandals.

Mr Lofts, who sits alongside Mr Orcel on UBS' 11-strong top management team, is a 29-year veteran at the bank and was re-installed as chief risk officer late in 2011 after UBS' rogue trading scandal, following a year as US boss.

Mr Williams, at UBS for 19 years, has been responsible for compliance issues since 2009.

The PCBS, a cross-party panel of lawmakers headed by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie, is switching its focus to standards and culture after spending most of the past three months assessing structural reform.

Mr Tyrie said at the time of UBS' fine that Libor rigging was "the clearest illustration yet that a great deal more needs to be done to restore standards in banking".

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