Credit Suisse and UBS face investigation over Russian sanctions evasion
Credit Suisse and UBS reportedly face an investigation by US authorities into their work for Russian oligarchs, amid concerns that bankers may have helped their clients evade sanctions.
The Swiss banks, which recently agreed a $3bn (£2.5bn) merger as Credit Suisse teetered on the brink of collapse, are said to be among lenders that were recently sent subpoenas by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
It is part of an investigation into whether financiers helped oligarchs with links to the Kremlin evade sanctions, as well as how these clients were vetted, according to Bloomberg.
Both Credit Suisse and UBS declined to comment on the report. A spokesman for the DoJ was not immediately available for comment.
The investigation is a fresh headache for bosses at UBS as they take on Credit Suisse, combing through its crisis-hit balance sheets and downsizing troubled divisions such as the investment banking arm.
Credit Suisse’s sale, which followed an unravelling of investor confidence and a run of client withdrawals, marked the first rescue of a global bank since the financial crisis of 2008.
The loss-making lender’s share price had been sliding for some time following a steady run of lacklustre results and financial scandals, including an association with collapsed supply chain finance firm Greensill and bizarre revelations that bosses hired private detectives to tail former employees.
Credit Suisse has long had a reputation for providing banking services to Russia’s elite. The bank looked after as much as $60bn for Russian clients at its peak, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year.
It discontinued business with them last May, three months after the outbreak of the Ukraine war. At that point, it held roughly $33bn for Russian individuals, or 50pc more than UBS, Bloomberg reported.
The reported subpoenas are the latest move by the DoJ’s new “KleptoCapture” task force – which focuses on tackling kleptocracy – to go after wealthy allies of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Investigators have already swooped on their property, with US President Joe Biden warning oligarchs: “We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets.
“We are coming for your ill-begotten gains.”