Credit Suisse professes “astonishment” at Swiss money laundering charges
Credit Suisse takes note with astonishment of the decision of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland to bring charges against the bank and other parties in an investigation that has already lasted more than twelve years.
Since February 2008, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has been conducting criminal proceedings against former Bulgarian clients of Credit Suisse related to allegations of money laundering. The investigation, which relates to the period from 2004 to 2008, was later expanded to include two former Credit Suisse employees. Since 2013, it also encompasses allegations of organizational deficiencies against the bank. Following lengthy proceedings – during the course of which various allegations were dropped and others became time-barred – the Office of the Attorney General has now brought charges against the bank and one former employee, among other parties, on December 17, 2020, and it has terminated the investigation against the second former employee. Credit Suisse unreservedly rejects as meritless all allegations raised against it and is convinced that its former employee is innocent.
These allegations against the bank are refuted and groundless:
A regulatory deep dive report on anti-money laundering prepared in 2004 determined that the bank had complied with the requirements in this field.
In 2016, Credit Suisse commissioned an independent legal review of the allegations against the bank by leading experts in the fields of money laundering prevention and banking supervision, including a former divisional manager at FINMA. These recognized experts concluded that Credit Suisse’s anti-money laundering organizational set-up was correct and appropriate throughout the period in question.
Importantly, these experts pointed out that the Office of the Attorney General assesses the alleged organizational deficiencies based on rules and principles that did not exist at the relevant period or refers to principles that were not applicable or to international standards that have deliberately not been implemented in Swiss law.
To prevail, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland would have to prove in court not only that the former employee of the bank is guilty of crimes but also that purported organizational deficiencies at the bank both violated then-applicable requirements and in fact enabled the former employee’s purportedly criminal acts. Credit Suisse will defend itself vigorously against these unfounded allegations. Based on the facts, Credit Suisse expects to prevail when the case is heard by the Swiss Federal Criminal Court. The Swiss Federal Criminal Court can impose a maximum fine of CHF 5 million in such proceedings.
The bank’s anti-money laundering framework has been significantly expanded and strengthened over the last twelve or more years, especially in recent times, in accordance with regulatory developments. Generating compliant growth in line with all legal and regulatory requirements has been and remains an absolute priority for Credit Suisse.