UBS Starts Hotline for Misconduct Reports After Rape Allegation

(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG will set up a confidential hotline for employees to report sexual misconduct and harassment after an allegation that a London-based trainee was raped by a more senior employee.

“Our priority is to support all of you and provide a safe environment for you to report any misconduct,” the bank’s senior managers including investment bank co-presidents Piero Novelli and Robert Karofsky said in a memo to staff. The Swiss bank is also expanding training for human-resources teams and individuals involved in investigating sexual misconduct, it said.

The U.K. financial-services regulator has been looking at how the Swiss lender handled an allegation that a London-based trainee was raped by a more senior colleague, people familiar with the matter said in September. It retained law firm Freshfields to conduct a review of the incident and how the matter was handled.

The Financial Conduct Authority has sought to find out why the bank didn’t notify it about the complaint under guidelines that require firms to deal with regulators in a transparent manner, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private.

There is intense public scrutiny in how large firms handle allegations of sexual harassment after a number of women accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of assault last year. Since then, several high-profile individuals have been accused of misconduct across a range of industries, giving birth to the global #MeToo movement.

“Following the deeply upsetting allegations of sexual misconduct by a former UBS employee, the bank initiated a thorough review looking at how we handled this matter,” they said in the memo. The review concluded that “there were no fundamental errors in the investigation process and that the investigation team sought to conduct the investigation fairly.”

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