Zurich banker Oskar Holenweger has been acquitted of money laundering charges.
Eight years after Holenweger was first arrested on charges of laundering money for South American drug cartels, the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona on Thursday cleared him of all charges, which also included bribery, falsifying documents and mismanaging client assets.
The decision represents a significant defeat for federal prosecutors who had sought a prison term for Holenweger.
The investigation was based on claims by Colombian narcotics baron José Ramos that Holenweger was involved in laundering drug money.
While investigators had been unable to prove these claims – despite hiring a German private investigator for a failed sting attempt – prosecutors alleged Holenweger had helped French energy group Alstom set up slush funds to bribe officials.
The Bellinzona court awarded Holenwger SFr420,000 ($476,730) in compensation.
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