Swiss banks have developed a dubious reputation over the course of the 20th century: they house money instantly and secretly from any source, legal or otherwise, in their vaults.
As a result, dictators, politicians, corrupt businessmen and criminals of various branches have taken refuge in Zurich for decades to hide the funds from their embezzlement.
The situation began to change with the pressure placed on money laundering by the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
But much of that money has remained there, quietly, in numbered accounts and other effective devices to conceal the identities of account holders.
Today, a consortium of newspapers revealed that Credit Suisse It still maintains more than 18,000 accounts in the name of common criminals, dictators, and suspected human rights abuses.
The leaked information, which covered more than $100 billion in deposits, came from a whistleblower who shared his findings with the German newspaper. Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper then held an alliance of 46 other media outlets from around the world, including New York timesAnd the guardian And the Le Monde.
The clients of Switzerland’s second largest bank include an international cast of characters that most people would rather not take pictures of.
Who are the clients
Among the account holders are a Yemeni intelligence chief implicated in torture, Venezuelan officials implicated in a corruption scandal, and children of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The accounts were opened between the 1940s and 2010, according to a statement released today by the Organized Crime and Corruption Whistleblower Project.
“I have often seen criminals and corrupt politicians who can continue to conduct business as usual, no matter the circumstances, because they are confident that their ill-gotten gains will remain safe.” Paul Radu, co-founder of the project.
“Our investigation reveals how these people can circumvent the organization despite their crimes, to the detriment of democracies and people around the world.”
Although Swiss banks, known worldwide for the country’s strict secrecy laws that protect customers, do not accept money linked to criminal activity, the law is not being enforced, according to the New York Times, which quoted a former head of the organization. a crime. Money laundering agency.
Credit Suisse refutes the claim
Credit Suisse issued a statement “strongly rejecting” allegations about its business practices.
“The stories presented are mostly historical, in some cases going back to the 1940s, and the accounts of these stories are based on partial, inaccurate or selective information, taken out of context, which has led to biased interpretations of the commercial bank’s behavior,” the bank said.
About 90% of the accounts mentioned in the leak had already been closed or were under lockdown before media investigations began, Credit continues.
*With information from CNBC.
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