Credit Suisse, still reeling from last year's billion-dollar losses, was hit with a new challenge on Sunday, Feb 20th: allegations from an international investigation that it had been handling dirty money for decades.
On Sunday, a cross-border media investigation claimed that Switzerland's second-largest bank held tens of billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, claims based on a massive data leak by an insider.
In a statement released on Sunday, Credit Suisse denied the "allegations and insinuations" claiming that many of the issues raised were historical, with some dating back to the 1940s.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is coordinating the investigation, which includes Le Monde in France and The Guardian in the United Kingdom.
The OCCRP dubbed this latest project "SwissLeaks" after a data leak to Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung newspapers a little over a year ago.
The investigation, according to the newspaper Le Monde, revealed that Credit Suisse had broken international banking rules by holding funds linked to crime and corruption for decades.
According to the OCCRP, the leak included information on more than 18,000 bank accounts belonging to 37,000 individuals or companies, dating from the 1940s to the 2010s.
It was the biggest data breach ever at a major Swiss bank, according to the report.
"Credit Suisse strongly rejects the allegations and insinuations about the bank's purported business practices" the bank said in a statement released on Sunday.
"The matters presented are predominantly historical, in some cases dating back as far as the 1940s, and the accounts of these matters are based on partial, inaccurate, or selective information taken out of context, resulting in tendentious interpretations of the bank's business conduct."
Before the press approached the bank, about 90% of the accounts reviewed were closed - or were in the process of being closed, according to the bank. And more than 60% of them had already closed by 2015.
"We believe the dozens of examples we have cited raise serious questions about Credit Suisse's effectiveness and commitment to meeting its responsibilities," the OCCRP said in a statement on its website.
The investigation uncovered dozens of "dubious characters" in the data, according to the report.
A Yemeni spy chief accused of torture, the sons of an Azerbaijani strongman, a Serbian drug lord, and Venezuelan bureaucrats accused of looting the country's oil wealth were among those arrested.
According to Le Monde, the amounts identified in the leaked accounts total more than $100 billion.
Developing countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America are mostly involved. Clients from Western Europe accounted for only 1% of the accounts.
SETBACKS AFTER SETBACKS
Credit Suisse has recently suffered a series of setbacks, the most recent of which is the international investigation.
The collapse of Greensill Capital, in which the bank had invested about S$10 billion through four funds, hit the bank in March 2021. The collapse of Archegos, a US hedge fund, cost it more than $5 billion.
In Switzerland, a former Credit Suisse employee is one of the defendants in a major corruption trial involving alleged money laundering and organized crime in Bulgaria that has just begun. The bank has stated that it will "defend itself vigorously in court"
The New York Times, Italy's La Stampa, Kenya's Africa Uncensored, and Argentina's La Nacion are among the news organizations involved in the SwissLeaks investigation.
By fLEXI tEAM