Whistleblower Reveals 18K Secret Swiss Bank Accounts

Credit Suisse did business with some nefarious characters
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2022 10:25 AM CST
Giant Swiss Bank Has Some Seriously Shady Customers
The logo of the Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen on a building in Zurich.   (Walter Bieri/Keystone via AP, File)

The idea of not-so-upright characters stashing money in a Swiss bank account is a staple of Hollywood—and a large leak of account holders with the giant Credit Suisse suggests it's right on the money:

  • The leak: A whistleblower gave the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung data on more than 18,000 accounts. The newspaper then shared the information with the nonprofit Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and 46 other news organizations, including the Guardian and the New York Times.
  • Customers: The Guardian ticks off some of those account holders: "a human trafficker in the Philippines, a Hong Kong stock exchange boss jailed for bribery, a billionaire who ordered the murder of his Lebanese pop star girlfriend, and executives who looted Venezuela's state oil company, as well as corrupt politicians from Egypt to Ukraine." (The story details them all.) The OCCRP calls attention to a "Yemeni spy chief implicated in torture," per CNN.
  • Customers, II: The Times takes note of "heads of state, intelligence officials, sanctioned businessmen, and human rights abusers, among many others." It ticks off King Abdullah II of Jordan, as well as former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak's two sons. "Other account holders included sons of a Pakistani intelligence chief who helped funnel billions of dollars from the United States and other countries to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s," the paper notes. In regard to the shadier characters, the Times points out that a simple Google search would have raised red flags.

  • Whistleblower: "I believe that Swiss banking secrecy laws are immoral," says the anonymous person, per the Guardian. "The pretext of protecting financial privacy is merely a fig leaf covering the shameful role of Swiss banks as collaborators of tax evaders."
  • Bank responds: "Credit Suisse strongly rejects the allegations and inferences about the bank's purported business practices," says a spokesperson, per the Times. She adds that some of the revealed accounts date back to "a time where laws, practices, and expectations of financial institutions were very different from where they are now." (The accounts run from the 1940s through the 2010s, and the Guardian notes that about two-thirds of them were opened after 2000.)
(This isn't the bank's only recent scandal.)

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