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4 Jan, 2019 15:50

Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested on US charges over $2bn fraud scheme

Ex-Credit Suisse bankers arrested on US charges over $2bn fraud scheme

Three former bankers of the second-largest bank in Switzerland, Credit Suisse Group AG, were arrested in London over an alleged connection to a $2bn Mozambique fraud scheme, according to US justice authorities cited by media.

The three suspects – former managing directors Andrew Pears and Surjan Singh, as well as the vice president in the global financing unit, Detelina Subeva – were charged with conspiring to violate US anti-bribery law, money laundering, and securities fraud in an indictment issued in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, Reuters reported.

The three men were released on bail after their arrest in the British capital on Thursday but may face extradition to the US.

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The bank itself was spared of the charges and says it was kept in the dark by its own staff.

“The indictment alleges that the former employees worked to defeat the bank’s internal controls, acted out of a motive of personal profit, and sought to hide these activities from the bank,” Credit Suisse said in a statement.

The arrests of the three former Credit Suisse employees came less than a week after the former finance minister of Mozambique was arrested in South Africa as part of the same case. Manuel Chang is now fighting extradition to the US. A fifth suspect was also arrested earlier this week.

Between 2013 and 2016, Credit Suisse and other banks arranged $2 billion loans for Mozambique state-owned companies. The loans were initially aimed at maritime projects and coastline protection in one of the poorest countries in the world, but instead were plundered, with at least $200 million diverted for bribes and kickbacks. The companies created to operate planned maritime projects were a cover for the suspects to enrich themselves.

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The loans were partly concealed from international donors and creditors, including the International Monetary Fund. After they were disclosed in 2016, international aid was withdrawn, sending the nation into crisis. The state-owned companies missed more than $700 million in loan payments after defaulting in 2016 and 2017, according to the indictment.

A similar case has recently been brought against Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. In December, Malaysia filed criminal charges against the US bank and two of its key bankers over its role in the multi-billion dollar scandal with 1MDB state fund. Kuala Lumpur wants $7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs, which it claims covered up the looting of the fund.

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