Credit Suisse ignored murders while laundering cocaine cash, banker testifies
A former Credit Suisse banker, who had been previously accused of money laundering, has reportedly told a Swiss court that top management at the bank knew about murders and cocaine smuggling connected to a Bulgarian gang, but continued managing cash that is now at the center of a criminal trial.
The Zurich-based banking giant and one of its former employees are facing charges for failing to tackle money-laundering practices connected to drug trafficking by a Bulgarian criminal syndicate. The gang allegedly managed to launder millions of euros, with some of it delivered to the bank in suitcases stuffed with cash.
Credit Suisse has denied any wrongdoing and stood by its former bankers accused. The trial began last week and is scheduled to end in early March.
The case hinges on illegal relations established between Switzerland’s second-largest bank and former Bulgarian wrestler Evelin Banev and multiple associates, two of whom are also charged in the case. The Bulgarian cocaine trafficking gang allegedly employed Banev, who is accused of hauling millions in currency by car to Switzerland. The events reportedly unfolded between 2004 and 2008.
In an email from June 2005 read out in court last week, the banker played down press reports linking the murder of one of Banev’s associates a month earlier with drug trafficking.
“After the homicide we have decided to continue the business relationships,” the banker wrote in the email. “The said (short and imprecise) article linking the murder to Spanish cocaine… has not been confirmed.”
Last week, Banev’s attorney said in Sofia that his client denied any involvement in laundering money from drug trafficking through Credit Suisse. Meanwhile, the former wrestler was convicted of drug trafficking in Italy in 2017 and money laundering in Bulgaria in 2018. Banev was detained in September in Ukraine after Bulgaria and Romania sought his arrest.
The banker accused of helping conceal the criminal origins of the money, totaling more than 146 million Swiss francs in transactions, appeared in Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona with her managers, who gave evidence. The banker’s identity cannot be reported under Swiss privacy rules.
Credit Suisse disputes the illegal origin of the money, according to a source close to the bank quoted by Reuters. The source also claims that Banev and his circle operated legitimate businesses in construction, leasing, and hotels.
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