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Swiss bank manager released in Brazil

A director of Swiss bank Credit Suisse's private banking unit, under investigation for money laundering and tax evasion, has left a Brazilian jail.

This content was published on April 2, 2006 - 12:40

The Swiss national, who manages investments for wealthy Brazilians, was allowed to leave a Sao Paolo prison on Friday after his temporary detention order expired.

His lawyers, employer and the authorities confirmed his release. The Brazilian federal police would not give further details.

Credit Suisse spokeswoman Monika Dunant said on Sunday that she was "relieved" that the 50-year-old manager was now out of prison.

The banker was detained on March 22 while trying to leave Brazil for Switzerland. Six other company executives were also under investigation.

Police raided the day before Credit Suisse's offices in Sao Paulo's financial district and the homes of four bank executives, where they seized documents, laptop computers and computer hard drives.

The investigation, known as "Operation Switzerland", focuses on whether the executives illegally transferred large sums of money overseas for Brazilian clients.

While no one has yet been charged in the case, police said possible charges could include money laundering, illegal currency remittances and criminal association.

Under Brazilian law, an arrest warrant or charges can be issued only after police present their case to prosecutors and they ask a judge to grant a warrant or lodge charges.

Cooperation

The banker was held on a temporary detention order that allows authorities to keep people in custody for five days. The order was extended for another five days but there were no requests for another extension.

"They probably felt it was not necessary to keep him in jail," aid Alex Leon Ades, one of the Swiss national's three lawyers.

The manager had his passport seized under a judicial order when he was detained and is prevented from leaving the country while authorities investigate the case, the lawyer added.

Credit Suisse, which has been in Brazil since 1990, said in an advertisement in Brazilian newspapers on March 24 that it's cooperating with the probe and doesn't expect any effect on its banking relationships.

Switzerland's second-biggest bank has noted that the investigation focuses on its Brazilian private-banking unit for wealthy clients, not on its investment-banking business.

The investment-banking division advises companies on mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings, a lucrative business that has taken off in Brazil as the economy appears headed toward slow, but sustainable growth for the first time in recent history.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Credit Suisse's private banking unit, one of three major sectors, provides comprehensive advice, investment products and services tailored to wealthy individuals globally.

Wealth management solutions include tax planning, pension planning, life insurance solutions, wealth and inheritance advice, trusts and foundations.

As of December 31, 2004, the private banking segment had approximately 12,000 employees worldwide, of which approximately 2,600 were relationship managers and financial advisors.

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