Newly leaked information has once again besmirched the reputation of Credit Suisse. The latest scandal has revealed that the Swiss bank currently holds several accounts owned by known criminals, sanctioned individuals, and alleged human rights abusers.
The leak, which included information on more than 18,000 accounts containing more than $100 billion, was published by several newspapers this week. It allegedly came from an insider who first approached the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper then contacted 46 other news outlets and an anti-corruption group about the leaked information.
The second-largest Swiss bank's clients comprised an international cast of shady individuals, including a known Yemeni spy accused of torture, Venezuelan officials embroiled in a corruption scandal, and the son of former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak. The accounts were opened between 1940 and 2010.
A release published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project claimed that the bank enabled criminals and corrupt government officials to continue conducting business even if they were guilty of major crimes. The group said banks such as Credit Suisse allows these people to bypass regulations to the detriment of the public.
Swiss regulators have repeatedly stated that banking laws are strictly enforced within the country. Under Swiss law, it is illegal for banks to accept money linked to criminal activity. However, Swiss banks are still well-known for their strict secrecy laws and how strongly they protect their clients - including known criminals.
Credit Suisse released a statement in response to the leak, stating that it strongly rejects the accusations made by the newspaper. The bank said the accusations made were "predominantly historical," as some accounts date as far back as the 1940s. The bank added that some of the data had been taken out of context, and accusations made were only based on partial, selective, and inaccurate information.
Credit Suisse explained that almost 90% of the accounts in the leak had been closed or were in the process of being closed down. Credit Suisse went on to say that it couldn't comment on specific clients but that it has already taken measures to deal with clients who are alleged to be involved in criminal activity.
For most of the last decade, the Zurich-based financial institution has been caught in various scandals as it grappled with its role in helping customers launder ill-gotten gains, hide assets from taxation, and aid in criminal activities.
In 2014, the bank agreed to pay $2.6 billion in fines and reparations after pleading guilty to assisting Americans in filing fake tax returns. It agreed to pay $475 million to settle a bribery scheme in Mozambique last year.