Swiss bank faces money-laundering trial over Bulgarian drug funds

Prosecutors allege that Credit Suisse accepted suitcases stuffed full of cash. © Keystone / Ti-press / Alessandro Crinari

Switzerland’s second-largest bank, Credit Suisse, is a defendant in a trial involving millions of euros that were allegedly laundered through its coffers by a Bulgarian drug trafficker.

This content was published on February 7, 2022 - 12:31

The court case, which starts on Monday, has sparked fresh calls for increased scrutiny of the way banks do business in Switzerland.

Prosecutors state that the drug ring, headed by a former Bulgarian wrestler, washed CHF146 million ($158 million) through Credit Suisse, including large sums of cash in suitcases, between 2004 and 2008.

Two alleged members of the cocaine-smuggling ring and two former bankers, from Credit Suisse and Julius Bär, will be in the dock during the four-week trial.

Credit Suisse is also accused of playing a part in the alleged plot and is the first major Swiss bank to appear in a money-laundering trial in the country, says Swiss public broadcaster, SRF.

“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.

String of scandals

The court case is the latest in a string of scandals to hit Credit Suisse, which saw its chairman resign last monthExternal link after ignoring Covid-19 restrictions.

Last year the bank lost billions of dollars from collapsed investment schemesExternal link and was hit with a huge fine for its part in a Mozambique corruption scandalExternal link.

Other Swiss banks, such as UBS, Falcon, Julius Bär and BSI, have also faced punishment or censure in recent years for a variety of offences.

Anti-corruption watchdog Public Eye said on Monday that the latest court case revealed shortcomings by the Swiss financial regulator.

“It proves that there is a political requirement to significantly strengthen inadequate supervisory instruments and sanctions,” the NGO stated.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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