Credit Suisse faces money laundering charges in trial of Bulgarian cocaine traffickers

FILE PHOTO: A Credit Suisse branch in Zurich, Switzerland, November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann

Por Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Silke Koltrowitz

ZURICH, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Credit Suisse will face charges in a Swiss court on Monday for allegedly allowing a Bulgarian gang of cocaine traffickers to launder several million euros, in some cases packed in suitcases.

Swiss prosecutors say the country’s No. 2 bank and one of its former relationship managers failed to take all necessary steps to prevent suspected drug traffickers from concealing and laundering cash between 2004 and 2008.

“Credit Suisse unreservedly rejects as unfounded all allegations made against it in this legacy matter and is satisfied that its former employee is innocent,” the bank said in a statement sent to Reuters.

In the first criminal trial against a large bank in Switzerland, prosecutors are seeking compensation of some 42.4 million Swiss francs from Credit Suisse, which added that it “will defend itself vigorously in court.”

The case has drawn wide interest in Switzerland, where it is seen as evidence that prosecutors could take a tougher stance against the country’s banks.

The indictment is more than 500 pages long and focuses on the relationships that Credit Suisse and its former employee had with former Bulgarian wrestler Evelin Banev and several associates, two of whom are accused in the case. A second indictment in the case accuses a former Julius Baer relationship manager of facilitating money laundering.

A legal representative for the former Credit Suisse employee, who cannot be named under Swiss privacy laws, said the case was unjustified and his client denied any wrongdoing.

A lawyer for the two alleged gang members, who face charges of misappropriation, fraud and document falsification in Swiss federal court but who cannot be named under Swiss privacy laws, declined to comment. An attorney for Julius Baer’s former relationship manager did not respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Silke Koltrowitz; additional reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Alexander Smith; translation by Flora Gómez)

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