Credit Suisse leak: what are the ‘Suisse Secrets’, Swiss bank data explained - and latest news

The leak reveals the bank repeatedly opened or maintained bank accounts for an array of “high-risk” clients

(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Details of 30,000 customers - including human traffickers and torturers - holding over 100 billion Swiss francs (£80 billion) in secret accounts at the bank Credit Suisse have been leaked.

The so-called "Suisse Secrets" leak is the latest major exposure of global corruption, following on from October 2021’s Pandora Papers.

It includes details of a Vatican-run account that allegedly invested €350 million (£292 million) fraudulently in Londonproperty.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is Suisse Secrets?

The Suisse Secrets leak exposes the hidden wealth of Credit Suisse clients involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and other serious crimes.

It contains details of accounts linked to 30,000 clients all over the world, and highlights widespread failures of due diligence by Credit Suisse.

The data was leaked by an anonymous whistleblower to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Despite repeated pledges over decades to crack down dubious clients and illicit funds, the leak reveals the bank repeatedly opened or maintained bank accounts for an array of “high-risk” clients.

They include a human trafficker in the Philippines, a Hong Kong stock exchange boss jailed for bribery and a billionaire who ordered the murder of his Lebanese pop star girlfriend, 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 Londonproperty that is at the centre of an ongoing criminal trial of several defendants, including a cardinal.

(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

What has Credit Suisse said?

On 20 February, Credit Suisse said it “strongly rejects” allegations of wrongdoing, and said that Switzerland’s strict banking secrecy laws prevent it from commenting on claims relating to individual clients.

The bank said the allegations were mostly historical, with many coming from a time when “laws, practices and expectations of financial institutions were very different from where they are now”.

It also said the allegations were based on “selective information taken out of context, resulting in tendentious interpretations of the bank’s business conduct.”

“I believe that Swiss banking secrecy laws are immoral,” the whistleblower source said in a statement. “The pretext of protecting financial privacy is merely a fig leaf covering the shameful role of Swiss banks as collaborators of tax evaders.”

What is Credit Suisse?

The global investment bank and financial services firm founded and based in Switzerland is certainly no stranger to controversy.

In 2021, Credit Suisse was fined €83.3 million (£69.4 million for In 2021, Credit Suisse was fined €83.3 million for manipulating foreign currency exchange rates because of its participation in a cartel detrimental to EU consumers.

A senior executive who was leaving the firm discovered in 2019 that the bank’s chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Bouée had hired private detectives to follow him to see if he was wooing Credit Suisse clients; Bouée was fired, and the private investigator involved killed himself.

And in 2016, Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to conspiring with Americans to file false tax returns, and subsequently paid $2.6 billion (£1.9 billion) in fines and restitution.

What were the Pandora Papers?

In October 2021, the British Government faced fresh calls to tighten its defences against “dirty money” after a leak of offshore data exposed the secret financial dealings of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people.

The cache of almost 12 million files – dubbed the Pandora papers – was said to cover the activities of some 35 current or former world leaders, more than 300 public officials and 100 billionaires.

According to BBC Panorama, which conducted a joint investigation with The Guardian, among the disclosures in the papers were details of the way prominent and wealthy people have been legally setting up companies to secretly buy property in the UK.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, angrily denied any wrongdoing after The Guardian and Panorama said they were able to save more than £300,000 in stamp duty when they acquired a £6.45 million London property by buying the offshore company which owned it.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the couple said they had bought the property in “a normal way through reputable agents” and should not have been “dragged into a story about ‘hidden’ secrets of prime ministers etc”.

The files were passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington which then shared access to the data with a number of media organisations including The Guardian and Panorama.

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