On the weekend, a Singapore-based UBS employee on the relationship management team who traveled to China to meet with clients was requested by government officials to remain and meet with authorities, according to several industry reports. The reason is unknown.
UBS then recommended in an internal memo that a team of regional advisors delay travel plans to the country, according to a Reuters report, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
In view of what appears to be a detention, and given some recent high profile detentions in China, Julius Baer also advised its relationship managers to delay trips to the country, according to a separate report from Bloomberg.
The same report cited a spokesman at Credit Suisse saying no travel ban was in place for its staff.
FSA contacted HSBC Private Bank and Standard Chartered, which have mainland operations and ambitions. Both banks declined to comment on whether a similar policy is in place for employees traveling to China.
China authorities have been tightening control over onshore wealth and asset management as the mainland’s private wealth increases.
But the reasons for mainland officials to detain the UBS employee remain unclear. UBS Group has established an onshore China foothold with a banking arm, securities house and asset management firm. Recently, the bank’s state-owned partners in UBS Securities, a joint venture brokerage, agreed to transfer their stakes to UBS. If approved, it would make the Swiss bank the controlling shareholder. UBS Securities would then become the first foreign-controlled securities firm in China.
Well-publicised disappearances in China of high-profile people include Interpol president Meng Hongwei and actress Fan Bingbing.
Meng Hongwei, who vanished after a trip to China on September 29, is said to be under investigation for bribery but so far has not resurfaced. Fan Bingbing, who was alleged to have evaded taxes, only reappeared months after her initial disappearance.