A data leak at Credit Suisse has revealed the kind of customers the Swiss bank is happy to do business with. Among the many customers the bank has catered for are organized crime bosses, dictators, corrupt politicians and spies.
The leak, which comprises 30,000 accounts and funds totaling upwards of $109 billion, lays bare how ultra wealthy criminals hide money in the traditional banking system. Picking through the thousands of accounts has been a major undertaking, with a number of media outlets including Süddeutsche Zeitung sharing the burden of the investigative work.
Despite the scale of the leak, the information recovered marks only a small slice of the dealings at Credit Suisse, suggesting a far more endemic problem may exist. Nobel laureate in economics, Joseph E Stiglitz, summed up the potential scale of the issue.
“The international journalistic collaboration only saw a small portion of the bank’s client data, but if in this tiny portion are already so many problematic customers, including dictators and their families, suspected war criminals, intelligence officials and chiefs, a human trafficker, sanctioned businessmen and human rights abusers – a true rogues’ gallery – what would we see if the window into the bank were larger?” said Stiglitz in the Guardian on Monday.
The issue that the Nobel laureate raises is not only remarkable, but entirely plausible based on recently-presented evidence.
What now for Suisse?
The revelation of rampant criminality at the Swiss bank has given cause for concern within the corridors of power at the EU. The largest political group in the parliament, the EPP, has called for the parliament to re-evaluate Switzerland as a ‘high-risk money-laundering country.’
Should such an eventuality actually transpire, it would place Switzerland in the same category as Panama and Afghanistan.
Markus Ferber MEP, the EPP Group’s Spokesman in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, commented on the seriousness of the case.
“Bank privacy laws must not become a pretext to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion. The ‘Swiss Secrets’ findings point to massive shortcomings of Swiss Banks when it comes to the prevention of money laundering. Apparently, Credit Suisse has a policy of looking the other way instead of asking difficult questions,” he said.
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