August 15, 2022

Credit Suisse found guilty in Bulgarian drug money laundering case

Credit Suisse must pay almost £18m for failing to stop laundering of Bulgarian drug money

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Credit Suisse and one of its former bankers have been found guilty of failing to stop the laundering of Bulgarian drug money by a gang led by a former wrestler.

In the first ever criminal conviction of a major Swiss lender, Credit Suisse was fined £1.7million and ordered to pay £16million in compensation.

One of its former relationship managers – Bulgarian ex-tennis star Elena Pampoulova-Bergomi – was also fined and handed a suspended 20-month sentence.

Drug rap: Credit Suisse was fined £1.7m and ordered to pay £16m in compensation after being found guilty of failing to stop the laundering of Bulgarian drug money

The court found Credit Suisse and Pampoulova-Bergomi did not do enough to prevent money-laundering by a cocaine trafficking gang from 2004 to 2008.

The case centred on Pampoulova-Bergomi’s relationship with 57-year-old Evelin Banev, a former member of the Bulgarian national wrestling team who was the head of a major European cocaine smuggling operation. 

The former world No.62 tennis star, 50, regularly collected suitcases stuffed with cash, including from a member of Banev’s gang who was later shot dead outside a restaurant in Sofia in 2005.

Banev was convicted of drug trafficking in Italy in 2017 and in Bulgaria in 2018 for being part of a criminal organization trafficking cocaine from Latin America.

Credit Suisse said it would appeal against the conviction.

‘Credit Suisse is continuously testing its anti-money laundering framework,’ the bank said.

Pampoulova-Bergomi’s lawyer said she would also appeal.

Experts said the case underlined Switzerland’s efforts to clean up its banking industry. 

Mark Pieth, a money laundering expert at the University of Basel, said: ‘What is significant about this case is that Switzerland is taking legal action against a company and not just any company – Credit Suisse is one of the jewels in the Swiss crown.’

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