A whistleblower leak to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media led to reporting on Sunday revealing that Credit Suisse—one of the world’s biggest private banks—knowingly accepted “corrupt autocrats, suspected war criminals and human traffickers, drug dealers and other criminals” as customers.
Data on more than 18,000 bank accounts, holding more than $100 billion was leaked. The accounts included personal, shared and corporate accounts with some opened as far back as the 1940s.
Nearly 50 media outlets have spent months investigating the data.
The German daily said it received the leaked data anonymously through a secure digital mailbox over a year ago. The newspaper says it didn’t make any payment or promises for the leak.
The newspaper said it evaluated the data with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and media partners including The New York Times and The Guardian.
The Guardian reported:
We can reveal how Credit Suisse repeatedly either opened or maintained bank accounts for a panoramic array of high-risk clients across the world.
They include a human trafficker in the Philippines, a Hong Kong stock exchange boss jailed for bribery, a billionaire who ordered the murder of his Lebanese pop star girlfriend and executives who looted Venezuela’s state oil company, as well as corrupt politicians from Egypt to Ukraine.
One Vatican-owned account in the data was used to spend €350m (£290m) in an allegedly fraudulent investment in London property that is at the center of an ongoing criminal trial of several defendants, including a cardinal.
The New York Times reported:
Among the people listed as holding amounts worth millions of dollars in Credit Suisse accounts were King Abdullah II of Jordan and the two sons of the former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak. Other account holders included sons of a Pakistani intelligence chief who helped funnel billions of dollars from the United States and other countries to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s and Venezuelan officials ensnared in a long-running corruption scandal.
The leak shows that Credit Suisse opened accounts for and continued to serve not only the ultrawealthy but also people whose problematic backgrounds would have been obvious to anyone who ran their names through a search engine.
A statement published by German newspaper from the anonymous source explained their motivation for the leaks:
“I believe that Swiss banking secrecy laws are immoral. The pretext of protecting financial privacy is merely a fig leaf covering the shameful role of Swiss banks as collaborators of tax evaders.”
“This situation enables corruption and starves developing countries of much-needed tax revenue. These countries are the ones that therefore suffer most from Switzerland’s reverse-Robin-Hood stunt.”
“I am aware that having an offshore Swiss bank account does not necessarily imply tax evasion or any other financial crime. However, it is likely that a significant number of these accounts were opened with the sole purpose of hiding their holder’s wealth from fiscal institutions and/or avoiding the payment of taxes on capital gains.”
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