Swiss prosecutors have opened an investigation into a suspected money laundering scandal involving loans to state-owned companies in Mozambique which plunged the southern African country into a debt crisis.
Confirming an earlier report in the NZZ newspaper, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General said on Friday that it had opened criminal proceedings in February this year. "The criminal proceedings are being conducted against persons unknown," it told Reuters in an e-mailed statement.
Credit Suisse, through its London subsidiary, was one of the lenders that helped arrange government-guaranteed loans between 2013 and 2016 to develop Mozambique's maritime capacities and tuna fishing industry.
Government representatives took out loans worth a total of more than $2 billion (CHF 1.94 billion) without the knowledge of parliament and in some cases without the knowledge of the International Monetary Fund, according to NZZ. Around half of these loans came from the Swiss bank.
The money should have been used to implement maritime projects, but the companies soon went bankrupt and the Mozambican state had to declare itself insolvent due to controversial state guarantees. The country slid into a debt crisis.
According to American authorities, at least $200 million disappeared, among other things through bribery payments to Mozambican officials and three former Credit Suisse employees in London. The latter have pleaded guilty in a New York court - two for money laundering, one for transfer fraud.
Swiss NGO Public Eye filed a criminal complaint against Credit Suisse to the OAG last year. It said it was calling on the Swiss Attorney General to clarify if the Credit Suisse Group had adequately supervised its subsidiary, fulfilling its duty to combat illegal activities.
"As the OAG statement notes, the investigation is against unknown persons. CS is cooperating with all authorities investigating these matters," Credit Suisse told Reuters.
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