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Zurich court continues Gazprombank trial against bank employees

Court drawing former Gazprombank Switzerland employees stand trial, Zurich, March, 7, 2023
The four defendants are accused of managing accounts for a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin and breaching obligations of due diligence. KEYSTONE / LINDA GRAEDEL

The cantonal court of Zurich will not allow Monday's Gazprom Bank trial to be called off. It has rejected the defence lawyers' motions. They demanded that the trial be dismissed because the indictment was insufficient.

The court has ruled that the indictment indeed met the legal requirements. The trial can therefore continue as planned after a short interruption.

The lawyers for the four defendants had criticised the fact that the indictment did not state enough about what the defendants were actually accused of. They argued that this violated the principle of the indictment.

Gazprombank Switzerland no longer active

Four former employees of Gazprombank Switzerland (GBPS) are on trial, including the then head of the bank and two members of the executive board. The fourth defendant is an account manager.

The four defendants are accused of managing accounts for a confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin and breaching obligations of due diligence.

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The former head, one of the two former managing directors and the client advisor have Russian citizenship but have been living in Switzerland for some time. The second member of management is Swiss. GPBS has since ceased its business activities.

“Putin’s cellist” with millions?

The indictment concerns the accounts of Sergey Roldugin. According to media reports, the Russian conductor and cellist is considered a close confidant of Putin. He is said to be the godfather of Putin’s daughter.

“Putin’s cellist”, as he was referred to in media reports, was a client of the GPBS from 2014 to 2016, with millions flowing through his accounts.

The Zurich District Court sentenced the four former Gazprombank employees to conditional fines in March last year. At the time, the defence lawyers demanded acquittals, while the public prosecutor’s office requested conditional prison sentences.

The court considered it proven that Roldugin’s accounts were part of a corporate network. This structure was allegedly designed to conceal the actual beneficial owners and payment flows.

Furthermore, according to the judgement, it is not plausible that Roldugin, as a cellist and conductor, could have amassed such a large fortune. Instead of carrying out further investigations, the defendants simply relied on Roldugin’s declaration that he was the beneficiary.

Who actually owned the millions of Swiss francs is not part of this trial.

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/ac

This news story has been written and carefully fact-checked by an external editorial team. At SWI swissinfo.ch we select the most relevant news for an international audience and use automatic translation tools such as DeepL to translate it into English. Providing you with automatically translated news gives us the time to write more in-depth articles.

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