June 25, 2018 / 11:11 AM / 5 months ago

Swiss private bank UBP hires top banker to attract more U.S. clients

ZURICH, June 25 (Reuters) - Swiss private bank Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) aims to rebuild its business with U.S. clients following a big tax settlement two years ago, hiring a top banker to oversee a unit that specialises in managing investments for U.S. residents and citizens.

The group on Monday named Deepak Soni to head its subsidiary UBP Investment Advisors. Among other things, he will oversee the addition of a new Zurich branch, UBP said in a statement.

Soni, who previously managed bank Vontobel's advisory for U.S. clients, has been tasked with growing the bank's business managing wealthy Americans' assets.

Over the next three years, the group wants to grow its business for U.S. clients to some 2 billion Swiss francs ($2 billion) of managed assets, a spokesman said, declining to quantify the current size.

"The United States is the world's biggest wealth management market today and is therefore a priority market for UBP," private banking head Michel Longhini said in a statement.

"We are very pleased to have hired Deepak Soni."

UBP group assets under management totaled 125.3 billion Swiss francs at the end of last year.

UBP was among Swiss banks that came under fire from U.S. authorities starting in 2008 for allegedly helping wealthy Americans dodge taxes.

The Geneva-based bank reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2016, paying over $187 million to resolve potential issues related to undeclared accounts and efforts to help Americans conceal income and assets.

At the time, the DOJ said the bank had held nearly 3,000 U.S.-related accounts since mid-2008 when factoring in acquisitions it made over the period, managing some $4.9 billion for U.S. clients at its peak.

Switzerland, the world's largest centre for offshore wealth, has since introduced largely automatic information-sharing on tax matters between many countries as it curtails banking secrecy.

Soni assumed his role on June 1.

$1 = 0.9878 Swiss francs Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi Editing by Mark Potter

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