Credit Suisse found guilty on money laundering charges

Credit Suisse has been found guilty on charges of money laundering, according to the verdict reported on Monday, with the bank ordered to pay fines of £1.7 million alongside £17 million to the Swiss government.

The verdict found the banking company guilty of failure to adequately prevent members of a Bulgarian crime syndicate from profiting off cocaine trafficking across Europe.

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The investigation reported a Credit Suisse employee failed to stop the criminal organisation from laundering over 19 million Swiss francs through the bank between July 2007 and December 2008 despite evidence that the money was illegally obtained.

The Swiss criminal court imposed a 20-month suspended sentence on the bank’s employee and an additional fine for her role in the money laundering scandal.

Swiss criminal law states that if a company is negligent in allowing its employees to launder money, the business is subject to a fine.

Credit Suisse denied complicity in any wrongdoing and confirmed it would be appealing the judgement.

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“Credit Suisse Group has taken note of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court’s decision to impose a fine of CHF 2 million against Credit Suisse AG for certain historical organizational inadequacies (article 102 of the Swiss Criminal Code) for the period between July 2007 and December 2008,” said the bank in a statement.

“The investigation dates back more than 14 years. The bank will appeal the decision.”

The verdict is not the first time Credit Suisse has been under investigation for criminal activity.

A leak in February 2022 revealed a series of the banking group’s clients were involved in torture, money laundering, drug trafficking and general corruption.

The report was initially reported by German press agency Süddeutsche Zeitung before it was picked up by the New York Times and international news organisations.

A whistle-blower released the evidence with the statement that “I believe that Swiss banking secrecy laws are immoral…The pretext of protecting financial privacy is merely a fig leaf covering the shameful role of Swiss banks as collaborators of tax evaders.”

The notorious secrecy of Swiss banking laws mean banks tend to have cover behind which to operate without intensive public scrutiny, which makes illegal operations difficult to pinpoint and evict from the banking system.

Credit Suisse announced at the time that 90% of the leaked accounts had been closed down, and accused media reports of attempts to discredit the Swiss banking infrastructure overall.

“Following numerous inquiries by the consortium over the last three weeks, Credit Suisse has reviewed a large volume of accounts potentially associated with the matters raised,” said Credit Suisse in a statement.

“Approximately 90% of the reviewed accounts are today closed or were in the process of closure prior to receipt of the press inquiries, of which over 60% were closed before 2015.”

“Of the remaining active accounts, we are comfortable that appropriate due diligence, reviews and other control related steps were taken in line with our current framework.”

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