Leaked documents from one of the world’s biggest private banks, Credit Suisse, show that the Swiss bank held billions of dollars for heads of state, intelligence officials and human rights abusers.
A self-proclaimed whistle-blower leaked data to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung showing more than 18,000 bank accounts with a total of $100 billion plus. The data covers accounts opened from the 1940s to 2010s, but not the current operations of the bank.
The secret banking information from Credit Suisse was made available to the New York Times and other news outlets by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Based in Sarajevo, the project is a consortium of investigative centers, media and journalists operating in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Central America that publishes stories exposing organized crime and corruption.
Several former Credit Suisse employees told federal prosecutors in late 2021 that the bank continues to hide hundreds of millions of dollars for clients long after it pleaded guilty in 2014 to criminal tax evasion charges, according to a whistle-blower lawsuit filed last year by a former bank official and a lawyer for other former employees.
Switzerland agreed that year that its banks would exchange information about clients with tax authorities in foreign countries. They started doing so in 2018.
“Credit Suisse strongly rejects allegations and inferences about the bank’s purported business practices. Many of the leaked accounts date back to a time where laws, practices and expectations of financial institutions were very different from what they are now,” said Candice Sun, a spokeswoman for the bank.
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Here are names of high-profile leaders and human rights abusers that were exposed in the leak:
The sons of former President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Gamal and Alaa held six bank accounts at Credit Suisse including a joint account that was valued at $196 million in 2003, according to the leaked data.
The sons’ fathers-in-law also had accounts at the bank worth millions of dollars, and other businessmen linked to the Mubaraks, who were tried on corruption charges by Egyptian authorities. In 2014, a Cairo court convicted Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal of embezzling $17.6 million in state funds. In 2018, the sones were accused of stock market manipulation. Hosni Mubarak died in 2020.
Omar Suleiman, the former spy chief of Hosni Mubarak, had a bank account with Credit Suisse too. His associates are listed in the data as beneficial owners of an account that held $68 million in 2007.
Suleiman was a feared figure in Egypt, where he oversaw widespread torture and human rights abuses. He died in 2012.
Seidel, who was the managing director of the Nigerian operation of German tech manufacturer Siemens, was convicted in 2008 of bribing Nigerian officials for more than 20 years in order to win contracts for Siemens.
The leaked documents show he had accounts with Credit Suisse that were open until at least well into the last decade. After he left Siemens, one account was worth $58 million. Seidel’s lawyer said his client had addressed all outstanding matters relating to his bribery offenses and wished to move on with his life.
Villalobos was Venezuela’s former vice minister of vitality. Credit Suisse had a 2008 report detailing corruption allegations involving him and Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm, Petroleos de Venezuela.
The financial institution nonetheless opened an account for Villalobos in 2011 according to the leaked information. The account, which was closed in 2013, held as much as $10 million.
King Abdullah II is one of the officers named in the leaks who remains in power. He had six accounts, together with one that had a balance of more than $224 million. Jordan’s Royal Hashemite Court said in a statement that there was no “illegal or improper conduct” with respect to the king’s bank accounts.
Sederholm, a Swedish computer technician, opened an account with Credit Suisse in 2008 and he was able to keep it for two-and-half years after his widely reported conviction for human trafficking in the Philippines in 2011. He ran a business where women and girls were forced to perform cybersex in front of computer screens. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Sederholm’s representative said Credit Suisse never froze his accounts and did not close them until 2013 when he was unable to provide due diligence material.
The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Pakistan Armed Forces and head of the Pakistani intelligence agency, General Khan had money stashed at Credit Suisse. He helped funnel billions of dollars in cash and other aid from the U.S. and other countries to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to support their fight against the Soviet Union.
He never faced any charges of stealing aid money. In 1985, an account was opened in the name of three of Khan’s sons. Years later, the account had accumulated $3.7 million, the leaked records show.
Ghazi Khan, one his sons, called the information about the accounts “not correct,” adding that the content is “conjectural.”
Saad Kheir, the head of Jordan’s intelligence agency, opened an account that would eventually hold $21.6 million. The account was closed after Kheir’s death in 2009.
Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, who served as head of state from 1993 to 1998, is believed to have stolen as much as $5 billion from his people in just six years. Credit Suisse provided services to Abacha’s sons, opening Swiss bank accounts in which they deposited $214 million.
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Nezzar was the Algerian minister of defense until 1993 and participated in a coup that precipitated a brutal civil war in which the military was accused of disappearances, mass detentions, torture, and execution of detainees.
He opened his account with Credit Suisse in 2004, when his role in human rights abuses had been widely documented. It contained a maximum of $2 million and remained open until 2013, two years after he was arrested in Switzerland for suspected war crimes.
Lazarenko, prime minister of Ukraine from 1997 to 1998, opened an account at Credit Suisse one year after taking office. Lazarenko was later estimated by Transparency International to have looted $200 million from the Ukrainian people.
Pressure from rivals forced him to announce his resignation amidst corruption allegations. He opened two accounts with Credit Suisse, one of which was valued at almost $8 million.
Photo: Credit Suisse bank in Zurich, Switzerland, Dec. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Keystone, Gaetan Bally, File)