Credit Suisse faces money laundering charges
Swiss court accuses Credit Suisse of allowing a Bulgarian cocaine trafficker to launder money through the bank.
Credit Suisse was accused in a Swiss court on Monday of allowing a suspected Bulgarian cocaine trafficking ring to launder millions of euros, some of which were hidden in suitcases.
Swiss prosecutors are seeking around 42.4 million Swiss francs ($45.86 million) in compensation from Credit Suisse in the first criminal trial of a major bank in Switzerland (CSGN.S).
They claim that between 2004 and 2008, the country's second-largest bank and one of its former relationship managers failed to take all necessary steps to prevent alleged drug traffickers from hiding and laundering cash.
"Credit Suisse unreservedly rejects as meritless all allegations in this legacy matter raised against it and is convinced that its former employee is innocent," the bank said in a statement to Reuters. It added it would "defend itself vigorously in court."
The case has sparked widespread interest in Switzerland, where it is seen as a litmus test for prosecutors who may take a tougher stance against the country's financial institutions.
The indictment, which spans over 500 pages, focuses on relationships that Credit Suisse and its ex-employee had with former Bulgarian wrestler Evelin Banev and several associates, two of whom are charged in the case.
A second indictment in the case accuses a former Julius Baer relationship manager of facilitating money laundering.
The case was unjustified, according to a legal representative for the ex-Credit Suisse employee, who cannot be identified due to Swiss privacy laws. His client denied wrongdoing. According to a preliminary court schedule, the banker would begin testifying on Wednesday or Thursday.
A lawyer for the two alleged gang members, who are charged in Swiss federal court with multiple counts of misappropriation, fraud, and forgery of documents, but cannot be named due to Swiss privacy laws, declined to comment. Requests for comment from a lawyer for the former relationship manager at Julius Baer were not returned.
Banev, who is not facing charges in Switzerland, was found guilty of drug trafficking in Italy in 2017 and then of money laundering in Bulgaria in 2018. He vanished but was apprehended in Ukraine in September.
According to Interpol's red list of wanted persons, Bulgarian prosecutors want him extradited to face charges of forming an organized criminal group for money laundering, while Romania wants him extradited for forming a drug trafficking ring. Banev's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment right away.