‘Suisse secrets’: The Credit Suisse scandal explained

AFP
AFP - [email protected] • 20 Feb, 2022 Updated Sun 20 Feb 2022 23:28 CEST
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What is the Credit Suisse scandal? Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Credit Suisse bank held tens of billions of euros of dirty money for decades, a new cross-border media investigation claimed Sunday, based on a massive data leak from an insider.

Credit Suisse rejected the "allegations and insinuations" in a statement Sunday, saying that many of the issues raised were historical, some dating back as far as the 1940s.

The investigation was coordinated by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which unites 47 different media outlets worldwide including France's Le Monde and The Guardian in Britain.

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This latest project, dubbed "SwissLeaks" by the OCCRP, arose out of a leak of data to Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung newspapers a little over a year ago.

The investigation showed that Credit Suisse had flouted international banking rules by holding funds linked to crime and corruption over several decades, wrote Le Monde.

The leak included information on more than 18,000 bank accounts dating back to the 1940s and up to the end of the 2010 decade belonging to 37,000 individuals or companies, said the OCCRP. It was the largest leak ever from a major Swiss bank, it added.

'Tendentious interpretations' 

In its statement Sunday, the bank said: "Credit Suisse strongly rejects the allegations and insinuations about the bank's purported business practices.

"The matters presented are predominantly historical, in some cases dating back as far as the 1940s, and the accounts of these matters are based on partial, inaccurate, or selective information taken out of context, resulting in tendentious interpretations of the bank's business conduct."

About 90 percent of the accounts reviewed were closed -- or were in the process of being closed -- before the press approached bank, it added. And more than 60 percent of them had been closed before 2015.

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The OCCRP, in a statement on its website, said: "We believe the dozens of examples we have cited raise serious questions about Credit Suisse's effectiveness and commitment to meeting its responsibilities."

It said the investigation had found dozens of "dubious characters" in the data.

They included a Yemeni spy chief implicated in torture, the sons of an Azerbaijani strongman, a Serbian drug lord and bureaucrats accused of looting Venezuela's oil wealth.

The sums in accounts identified as problematic amount to more than $8 billion (seven billion euros), the OCCRP said.

They involve mainly developing countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and South America.

Only one percent of the accounts concerned clients based in western Europe. Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second largest bank, was hit by a series of setbacks a year ago. In March 2021, the bank was hit by the collapse of Greensill Capital in which it had committed some $10 billion dollars through four funds.

The implosion of the US fund Archegos cost it more than $5 billion. News media involved in the SwissLeaks include The New York Times, Italy's La Stampa, Africa Uncensored in Kenya and Argentina's La Nacion.

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AFP 2022/02/20 23:28

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