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Lausanne bank defends employee against police

The Lausanne branch of the Portuguese Espirito Santo bank has come out in defence of one of its employees accused of assisting in a SFr1.5 billion Mafia heist.

The bank's management has vehemently rejected any suggestion that the man helped to launder money stolen from the European Union via the Internet. A statement from the bank said it had confidence in the employee, who is under investigation by canton Vaud's police force.

"There are no indications whatsoever to suggest that he was involved in money laundering," the bank said. They added that they had carried out an internal inquiry to establish this.

The man, suspected of helping the Sicilian Mafia to siphon off EU subsidies destined for southern Italy, is a fund manager.

The Italian press had reported that around SFr1.5 billion had been diverted in an Internet scam, whereby the Cosa Nostra had created a phoney web page identical to the one used by the Bank of Sicily.

The Swiss financial police raided the premises of the Espirito Santo bank at the weekend along with the apartment of the fund manager.

The banker under suspicion is reportedly on a holiday abroad.

swissinfo with agencies

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