A Panama-paper style document leak has put the spotlight on Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse on the type of clients it had between 1940s and 2010s.
Investigative journalism network Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project received the data from German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which was sent the documents by one unnamed person.
The information refers to around 18,000 accounts which held more than $100bn (£74bn, €87bn), according to The New York Times.
The allegations claim that the Swiss bank’s customers were human rights abusers and businessmen who had been placed under sanctions.
Credit Suisse has rebuked all allegations.
‘Partial, inaccurate or selective information’
The Swiss banking group was quick to respond to media reports with a statement on its website.
It said: “Credit Suisse strongly rejects the allegations and insinuations about the bank’s purported business practices. 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.
“While as a matter of law, Credit Suisse cannot comment on potential client relationships, we can confirm that actions have been taken in line with applicable policies and regulatory requirements at the relevant times, and that related issues have already been addressed.
“Following numerous inquiries by the consortium over the last three weeks, Credit Suisse has reviewed a large volume of accounts potentially associated with the matters raised. Approximately 90% of the reviewed accounts are today closed or were in the process of closure prior to receipt of the press inquiries, of which over 60% were closed before 2015. Of the remaining active accounts, we are comfortable that appropriate due diligence, reviews and other control related steps were taken in line with our current framework. We will continue to analyse the matters and take additional steps if necessary.
“Credit Suisse notes that the consortium is referring to a large number of external sources including those previously known as well as an alleged leak in their reporting. We take this latter allegation very seriously and will continue with our investigations with an internal task force including specialist external experts. We have robust data protection and data leakage prevention controls in place to protect our clients.
“As a leading global financial institution, Credit Suisse is deeply aware of its responsibility to clients and the financial system as a whole to ensure that the highest standards of conduct are upheld. These media allegations appear to be a concerted effort to discredit not only the bank but the Swiss financial marketplace as a whole, which has undergone significant changes over the last several years.
“In line with financial market reforms across the sector and in Switzerland, Credit Suisse has taken a series of significant additional measures over the last decade, including considerable further investments in combating financial crime. Across the bank, Credit Suisse continues to strengthen its compliance and control framework, and as we have made clear, our strategy puts risk management at the very core of our business.”
Swiss financial watchdog Finma told International Adviser that while it does not comment on individual media reports, it is aware of the articles.
It added that it has been in contact with Credit Suisse “in this context” and that “compliance with money laundering regulations has been a focus of our supervisory activities for years now,” the Finma spokesperson added.