Swiss banks dispute Madoff liquidator claims

Swiss banks targeted by liquidators seeking claims on behalf of investors duped in the Bernard Madoff fraud scandal on Thursday disputed their involvement in the affair.

Irving Picard is charged with clawing back billions of dollars for the victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and on Wednesday lodged new claims against several financial institutions, including three Swiss banks.

Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV) said in a statement it “strongly disputes the basis of the action.”

The request for $10 million issued by the liquidator concerns investors who sold Madoff funds via the BCV and “does not concern the bank directly”, it said.

Private bank Lombard Odier & Co said in a statement it too “emphatically disputes the claim lodged by Picard and will employ all legal means available to challenge it.”

The Geneva-based bank said it did not recommend investing in Madoff’s funds, nor the “feeder” funds which supply them.

A third Swiss bank implicated in the affair, EFG International, declined to comment, saying it had not yet received a claim.

Wall Street financier Madoff succeeded for decades in convincing hundreds of investors that he was racking up huge profits with their savings.

Based on the fake profit reports they had received from Madoff’s investment fund operations, victims claimed some $65 billion in losses after the business collapsed in December 2008.

Picard is claiming $355 million from EFG International, $180 million from Lombard Odier and $10 million from BCV, the Swiss news agency ATS reported.


Credit Suisse slashes jobs, branches to move ‘online’

Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second-biggest bank, said Tuesday it would reorientate its domestic services towards digital banking, with a quarter of its Swiss branches to close and hundreds of jobs at risk.

Credit Suisse slashes jobs, branches to move 'online'
A Credit Suisse branch. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

“In the last two years alone, use of online banking at Credit Suisse has grown by approximately 40 percent, while the use of mobile banking has more than doubled,” the bank said in a statement.

“The COVID-19 crisis has further accelerated these trends. In contrast, the number of visits to branches has been declining for years.

“Credit Suisse will introduce a new digital offering and a future-oriented branch concept at the end of October.”

The bank also plans to merge the activities of regional subsidiary Neue Aargauer Bank with those under the Credit Suisse brand to avoid duplication.

READ: How to open a bank account in Switzerland 

With its realignment, the bank intends to reduce annual costs by around 100 million Swiss francs ($110 million, 93 million euros) from 2022 onwards. It plans to cut the number of bank branches from 146 to 109.

Meanwhile up to 500 jobs could be axed, Andre Helfenstein, head of the bank's operations within Switzerland, told reporters during a conference call.

The restructuring costs are expected to be 75 million Swiss francs. “Digitalisation is happening all around us,” Helfenstein said in a statement.

“The changes we are making to our branch network — while simultaneously investing in digital solutions and in advisory services for clients with more complex needs — represent a logical step forward.”

In late July, the bank's new chief executive Thomas Gottstein unveiled his plans for Credit Suisse, which involved regrouping its different investment bank activities.

Gottstein took charge in February after Tidjane Thiam was ousted over a massive spying scandal.