UBS, the Swiss banking giant, has asked dozens of its wealth managers to check with their bosses before making any trips to mainland China in the coming days, after one of the bank’s advisers to wealthy Chinese clients was prevented last week from flying home to Singapore from Beijing.
The incident is the latest sign of the Chinese government’s growing assertiveness in preventing foreign citizens from leaving the country in connection with investigations.
Swiss banks occupy a difficult niche in China. They are widely known for protecting clients’ secrecy, although the United States government has been chipping away at Switzerland’s stringent regulations. Singapore also has strict bank secrecy laws, and has become a popular place for many Asians to park their money beyond the easy scrutiny of tax investigators and the police.
Preventing a Swiss bank manager from leaving China until she speaks to the authorities could represent a new challenge to banking secrecy.