FINMA chief to head up German financial watchdog BaFin

FILE PHOTO: Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) Chief Executive Mark Branson attends a news conference in Bern, Switzerland March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

BERLIN (Reuters) – Mark Branson, the head of Switzerland’s financial markets regulator FINMA, is to be named President of German financial watchdog BaFin, Germany’s finance ministry said on Monday.

Current president Felix Hufeld is leaving BaFin at the end of the month after coming under pressure for failing to spot wrongdoing ahead of the collapse of the payments company Wirecard.

FINMA declined to comment. BaFin was not immediately available for comment.

Branson, who holds both Swiss and British nationality, ascended to the helm of FINMA in April 2014 after holding various positions there since 2010. He previously worked at Credit Suisse, SBC Warburg and UBS.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, whose ministry oversees BaFin, has responded to the Wirecard scandal by giving regulators more powers to spot and investigate misconduct.

Calls for Hufeld’s resignation came to a head after BaFin in January reported one of its own employees to state prosecutors on suspicion of insider trading linked to Wirecard, shortly before the firm folded.

“Without a doubt Mark Branson has international experience, but the Swiss authority isn’t considered especially strict,” said lawmaker Fabio De Masi, a fierce critic of BaFin’s role in the Wirecard saga.

He called on Branson to face a public hearing in the German parliament as the least that could be expected from the head of the regulator after the Wirecard scandal.

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