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(Bloomberg) -- The trial of the former Credit Suisse Group AG banker accused of defrauding his clients wrapped up after eight days with a personal plea.
Give me a chance to start over, Patrice Lescaudron begged, looking right at the trio of judges that will decide his fate. He said that without relief from a stack of possible financial claims hanging over him, he had “no future.”
Lescaudron admitted to faking trades and signatures to keep a shell game going that went undiscovered until 2015, but his lawyer said that he’s already suffered for his wrongdoing and never tried to blame anyone else.
The trial ended Thursday and judges are scheduled to deliver their verdict Feb. 9.
Here’s what we learned this week:
Lescaudron used money from hidden holding companies to spend nearly $1 million on jewelry for his wife at Chanel and another high-end Geneva retailer, according to Credit Suisse lawyers. The spending binge came as Lescaudron took nearly 45 million Swiss francs ($47 million) from clients through commissions and other unauthorized trades for his own benefit, Vincent Jeanneret, the bank’s lawyer, told the court.
Chief prosecutor Yves Bertossa made a blistering attack on Lescaudron’s character as the trial’s second week opened, saying he failed in his biggest duty: to be honest with clients. Bertossa asked the court to sentence Lescaudron to five years in prison and ban him from working in financial services for four years after he gets out of jail. Lastly, Bertossa said the court should confiscate Lescaudron’s $2.5 million Swiss home, two Sardinian apartments and more than $10 million in assets.
Throughout the trial, Credit Suisse’s lawyers zeroed in on $1.5 million worth of what they consider to suspicious payments that Lescaudron received directly from former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili that went to a private bank account that Credit Suisse had no knowledge of. The fact a client, used to operating in Russia, chose to reward him directly shouldn’t be treated as criminal enrichment and Lescaudron can’t afford to have that money confiscated, his lawyer, Simon Ntah, said.
Judge Alexandra Banna, who is overseeing the case, must decide what to do with Lescaudron’s assets and more than $100 million that are scattered across various clients’ accounts, some of which should be returned to Ivanishvili, Lescaudron’s biggest client, and and Russian financier Vitaly Malkin, when the money can be linked back to their accounts.
Though Bertossa had split the issue of Credit Suisse’s responsibility off from Lescaudron’s so that it could be addressed in separate proceedings, lawyers for the victims were in no mood to let the matter drop. Words like “farcical,” “surreal” and “nonexistent” were used to describe the bank’s compliance efforts that failed to uncover Lescaudron’s deception until a wrongway share bet unraveled the scheme.
“I could not believe my ears when I heard it said -- without blushing -- that the bank’s internal controls had worked well,” said Alec Reymond, a lawyer for businessman Yuri Sokolov. “Credit Suisse’s surveillance and controls were farcical.”
Ntah asked the three judges who will decide his client’s fate if Lescaudron had not already been sufficiently punished after two years of pretrial detention and the threat of financial ruin hanging over him.
“Two years in detention, his financial problems, the 10 years of problems that will ensue once he’s released,” Ntah said. “Has the message not already been delivered?”
Writing on the Wall
To drive the point home, he reminded the court of Lescaudron’s depression, brought on in part by his two years in prison.
“Are you sure you want to go in there?” Ntah recalled a guard asking him when he first went to visit Lescaudron in prison. In the sparse cell, next to the washbasin a message was scratched into the wall:
“God is dead.”
(Adds Ivanishvili’s relationship with Lescaudron in ninth paragraph.)
--With assistance from Gaspard Sebag
To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Geneva at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.com, Christopher Elser
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