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Swiss bank attempts to bolster relations with the US

Swiss bank UBS has made a number of appointments to its private banking business in what looks to be an effort on its part to improve relations with the US. The private banking business has also for the first time appointed a chief investment officer.

Alexander Friedman, previously a defense department official during the Clinton Administration, has been named UBS Wealth Management’s chief investment officer. A former White House fellow and assistant to the secretary of defense for special projects under the Clinton Administration, he was also the financial officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The bank also appointed Mona Sutphen, former White House deputy chief of staff of policy for President Obama, to lead the macro analysis operations; and alternative asset manager Mark Haefele is to head investment analysis.

Chief executive of UBS Wealth Management Jurg Zeltner said in a statement: “The creation of the chief investment officer function illustrates our genuine commitment to financial performance for our clients.”

UBS said that Friedman will focus on global investment strategy and policy. Sutphen, an American diplomat for over 10 years, had been managing director of Stonebridge International while Haefele is co-founder of Boston-based hedge fund, the Sonic Funds, and had served as managing director of Matrix Capital Management.  

Experts reckon that the appointments were made partly to improve relationships with the US government, which had, in 2009, sued UBS for allegedly helping American investors evade taxes through offshore companies. The stand off between the two led to UBS paying around $780 million to the US and turning over names of thousands of private banking clients to the American Justice Department in August 2009. 

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