Zurich Court Upholds Judgment Against Four Bankers

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A Zurich court upheld a judgment against four bankers convicted last year of failing to perform due diligence in financial transactions after helping a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin move millions of francs through Swiss bank accounts.

The four former employees of the Swiss unit of Russia’s Gazprombank had asked Zurich’s high court to overturn a conviction at a lower court last year.

The three Russians and a Swiss citizen helped Sergey Roldugin, a concert cellist who has been dubbed “Putin’s wallet” by the Swiss government and is godfather to Putin’s eldest daughter, deposit millions of francs in Swiss accounts between 2014 and 2016.

The bankers, who cannot be identified under Swiss reporting restrictions, were found guilty by Zurich’s District Court in March 2023 and given suspended fines totalling more than 450,000 Swiss francs ($504,000).

The prosecution had alleged the men failed to do enough to determine the identity of the real owner of the funds and that it was implausible that Roldugin could be the real owner.

Swiss law meant that clarifications were needed into how Roldugin’s accounts received dividends of 5 to 7 million Swiss francs per year and how he acquired a 20% stake in a media company with a value of more than 100 million francs, the court heard on Tuesday.

“There was numerous research which could have been undertaken,” senior judge Beat Gut told the court, adding Roldugin was being used as a ‘strawman’ or cover to hide the real owners of the money.

“The passive acceptance of the claim that Roldugin got his wages and loans is not plausible,” Gut said. “In particular the statement that it was acquired by means of loans indicated a certain strawman financing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REUTERS/Christopher Ojilere

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