Credit Suisse Slams ‘Concerted Effort to Discredit Bank' by Failed Due Diligence Claims in Data Leak

© REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann A national flag of Switzerland flies in front of a branch office of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Luzern October 30, 2014
A national flag of Switzerland flies in front of a branch office of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Luzern October 30, 2014 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.02.2022
The massive trove of data on more than 18,000 bank accounts, opened between the 1940s and the 2010s, was leaked by a self-described whistleblower to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared it with a nonprofit journalism group, the Organsed Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
Сredit Suisse Group has issued a statement to address the fallout from what has been dubbed the “Suisse Secrets” - leaked information covering accounts holding more than $100 billion that, according to a spate of media reports, exposed the shady clients of the Zurich-based bank.
"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,” reads the statement.
The bank emphasised that it had reviewed a large volume of accounts potentially associated with the leak, and approximately 90% had already been closed or were in the process of closure.

“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. We will continue to analyse the matters and take additional steps if necessary,” stated Сredit Suisse Group.

Credit Suisse acknowledged that it took allegations of due diligence failures seriously and would continue its own investigations with an internal task force, insisting that it had “robust data protection and data leakage prevention controls in place to protect our clients.”
It also deplored the latest media allegations as what appeared to be a “concerted effort to discredit not only the bank but the Swiss financial marketplace as a whole, which has undergone significant changes over the last several years.”
“Across the bank, Credit Suisse continues to strengthen its compliance and control framework, and as we have made clear, our strategy puts risk management at the very core of our business," concluded Credit Suisse.

‘Suisse Secrets’

The statement from the Swiss money-lender had been prompted by a media frenzy triggered by a vast leak of data from Credit Suisse, one of the world’s most iconic private banks, which claimed to have exposed the dubious owners of hundreds of millions of dollars of hidden wealth.
Human and drug traffickers, fraudsters, corrupt politicians, alleged human rights abusers are suggested to be among those whose ill-gotten funds found their way into accounts held at Switzerland’s second-largest money lender, raising concerns over deplorable failures of due diligence by the Zurich-based financial giant.
A national flag of Switzerland flies in front of a branch office of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Luzern October 30, 2014 - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.01.2022
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Information on more than 18,000 bank accounts - personal, shared and corporate – estimated to be worth over$100bn (£73.6bn), was provided by a whistle-blower who shared it with Süddeutsche Zeitung over a year ago.
In a statement published by the German newspaper, the anonymous source explained the motivation for leaking the records.
"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 German outlet proceeded to share the data with a nonprofit journalism group, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, and 46 other news organisations globally, including The Guardian, Le Monde and The New York Times.
The accounts in question had been opened from the 1940s into the 2010s, according to the Sunday release from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
“I’ve too often seen criminals and corrupt politicians who can afford to keep on doing business as usual, no matter what the circumstances, because they have the certainty that their ill-gotten gains will be kept safe. Our investigation exposes how these people can bypass regulation despite their crimes, to the detriment of democracies and people all over the world,” Paul Radu, co-founder of the OCCRP, said in a statement.
After months of analysing the data contained in the leak, a plethora of media organizations suggest there was credible evidence that Credit Suisse accounts had been used by clients implicated in serious crimes, such as money laundering, drug or human trafficking, and a wide range of other criminal activities.
Countries with some of the largest number of clients in the leaked data appeared to be Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand, reported The Guardian.
Among those listed as holding millions worth of dollars in Credit Suisse accounts were King Abdullah II of Jordan.
A statement from Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court said, however, that there had been no “unlawful or improper conduct” in relation to the bank accounts.
Other accounts belonged to the two sons of Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian military and political leader who served as the fourth president of the country from 1981 to 2011 and was accused of corruption. Alaa and Gamal Mubarak are reported to have held a total of six accounts, including one worth $196 million.
The Mubaraks’ lawyers, in a statement to The New York Times, said the suggestion that any of the Mubaraks’ assets had been “tainted by any illegality or a result of any favouritism or use of influence” would be “both unfounded and defamatory", adding that assets they held were from their “successful professional business activities.”
Also featured were the names of a Pakistani intelligence chief, General Akhtar Abdur Rahman Khan, who purportedly channelled billions of dollars from the United States and other countries to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the 1980s, reported The New York Times.
The bank is also shown to have kept accounts open for a Zimbabwean businessman under US and European sanctions for his ties to the government of the country’s president, Robert Mugabe.
One account holder was Venezuela’s former vice minister of energy, Nervis Villalobos. Credit Suisse opened an account for him despite a 2008 report by an outside due-diligence company detailing corruption allegations against Villalobos, according to a Spanish police report cited by the media consortium and reviewed by The Times. The account, closed in 2013, is said to have amounted to $10 million.
The leaked data reportedly contains an account that belonged to Helen Rivilla, an attorney convicted in 1992 for helping launder money on behalf of corrupt Philippine leader, Ferdinand Marcos. The woman is said to have opened a Swiss account in 2000.
Serbian securities fraudster Rodoljub Radulović, indicted in 2001 by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, is identified in the leaked data as the co-signatory of two Credit Suisse company accounts. One was opened in 2005.
Another client, Stefan Sederholm, was a Swedish computer technician who opened an account in 2008 and maintained it for two-and-a-half years despite his life sentence conviction for human trafficking in the Philippines.
The Swiss bank’s German client, Eduard Seidel, a Siemens employee, was convicted of bribery in 2008 for overseeing a campaign to secure lucrative contracts for his employer by supplying corrupt Nigerian politicians with funds, writes The Guardian.
The current disclosures, believe media outlets responding to the leak, may result in further legal and political scrutiny of the Swiss banking industry.
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