News

15 March 2011
Press release
Enforcement instruments

FINMA closes investigation into sia Abrasives case

The Swiss Financial Market Regulatory Authority FINMA has closed its investigation initiated in January 2009 into the sia Abrasives case. It ruled that Giorgio Behr breached his disclosure obligations under Article 20 of the Stock Exchange Act when building a stake in sia Abrasives. Bank am Bellevue actively aided him and, by doing so, breached its organisational duties and its duties to assure proper business conduct. FINMA filed a criminal complaint against Giorgio Behr with the Federal Department of Finance.
FINMA's wide-ranging investigation was triggered by a disclosure report on 1 April 2008 stating that a group of investors led by Giorgio Behr had surprisingly exceeded the voting rights thresholds of 3% and 5% on 26 March 2008, 10% on 27 March 2008, and 15% and 20% on 1 April 2008 in sia Abrasives, which was listed on the stock exchange until 2009. In order to investigate the matter further, FINMA instigated administrative proceedings against Bank am Bellevue, which happened to be the main purchaser of the sia Abrasives registered shares, and appointed an investigating agent. In autumn 2009, FINMA then also instigated administrative proceedings against Giorgio Behr based on the investigating agent's report.

The full-scale FINMA investigations revealed that Giorgio Behr had been able to acquire over 20% of the voting rights in sia Abrasives in late March/early April 2008 within only a few days because Bank am Bellevue had been buying sia Abrasives registered shares for the account of its clients since at least January 2008, and parking these shares with its clients for subsequent resale to Giorgio Behr. Mr Behr thus seriously breached his disclosure obligations under the Stock Exchange Act and the bank seriously violated its organisational duties and its duties to assure proper business conduct. During the course of the proceedings, Bank am Bellevue took measures to rectify the organisational shortcomings. FINMA set conditions for the bank and threatened to withdraw its banking licence in the event of a repeated infringement.

The parties concerned may lodge a complaint with the Federal Administrative Court against the FINMA rulings.

FINMA is responsible for ruling over possible violations of Article 20 of the Stock Exchange Act, while the Federal Department of Finance is responsible for determining whether the disclosure obligations have been infringed under criminal law. FINMA has filed a criminal complaint against Giorgio Behr.

Contact

Tobias Lux, Media Spokesperson, Phone +41 (0)31 327 91 71, tobias.lux@finma.ch