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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Credit Suisse Found Guilty In Cocaine Cash Laundering Case

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Credit Suisse was convicted by Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court of failing to prevent money laundering in the country’s first criminal trial of one of its major banks. The court said on Monday it found deficiencies within Credit Suisse both with regard to the management of client relations with the criminal organization and with regard to the monitoring of the implementation anti-money laundering rules.

A former employee was found guilty of money laundering in the trial, which included testimony on murders and cash stuffed into suitcases and is seen as a test case for prosecutors taking a tougher line against the country’s banks.

It marks another headache for Thomas Gottstein, CEO of Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, which has been reeling from billions in losses racked up via risk-management and compliance blunders.

Both Credit Suisse and the former employee had denied wrongdoing.

Credit Suisse said it would appeal against the conviction.

The judges looked at whether Credit Suisse and the former employee did enough to prevent a Bulgarian cocaine trafficking gang from laundering profits through the bank from 2004 to 2008.

“These deficiencies enabled the withdrawal of the criminal organization’s assets, which was the basis for the conviction of the bank’s former employee for qualified money laundering,” the court said.

Credit Suisse faces a fine of 2 million Swiss francs ($2.1 million). The court also ordered the confiscation of assets worth more than 12 million francs that the drug gang held in accounts at Credit Suisse, and ordered the bank to relinquish more than 19 million francs — the amount that could not be confiscated due to internal deficiencies at Credit Suisse.

The court handed the former employee, who cannot be named under Swiss privacy laws, a suspended 20-month prison sentence and a fine for money laundering.

The presiding judge said she had failed to fulfill her role in the bank’s “first line of defense.”

Legal action

Corruption and money laundering experts had said the fact that Switzerland had taken legal action against a global banking player like Credit Suisse could send a powerful message in a country famous for its banking industry.

“This has the potential to be a watershed moment for Switzerland,” Mark Pieth, a money laundering expert at the University of Basel, said on the eve of the trial.

“What is significant about this case is that Switzerland is taking legal action against a company and not just any company – Credit Suisse is one of the jewels in the Swiss crown.”

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