US probes Swiss banks over Russian clients – Bloomberg
Swiss banking giants Credit Suisse and UBS are on a list of banks under scrutiny by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly helping Russian businessmen to evade sanctions, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Swiss banks, along with a number of American banking majors, were reportedly subpoenaed by the DOJ. The agency’s sources added that the requests had been sent before Credit Suisse was hit by the crisis that resulted in its takeover by rival UBS.
The probe is aimed at identifying which bankers and advisers dealt with sanctioned clients and how those clients were vetted over the past several years, the sources told the media, adding that bank employees may subsequently be subject to further inquiries to determine whether they broke any laws.
The lenders could face serious penalties for violating US sanctions. In 2014, French international banking group BNP Paribas was forced to pay around $9 billion after pleading guilty to Washington’s charges of allowing transactions involving sanctioned entities in Sudan, Iran and Cuba. Standard Chartered Bank in 2019 agreed to shell out over $1 billion to settle a DOJ investigation over the violation of anti-Iranian sanctions.
Last month, Credit Suisse, once Switzerland’s second-largest bank, said it had blocked over $19 billion in Russian assets as part of sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Last year, the DOJ launched its KleptoCapture task force to enforce sanctions on Russians who, according to the White House, were close allies of President Vladimir Putin. The US authorities have since seized a number of yachts, private planes and properties from Russian businessmen.
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