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Ex-Credit Suisse adviser sentenced to five years for “clever fraud“

Geneva prosecutor Bertossa stands outside the courthouse after the verdict of the trial of Lescaudron a Credit Suisse banker in Geneva. (Reuters)
GENEVA: Former Credit Suisse client adviser Patrice Lescaudron was sentenced to five years imprisonment by a Geneva court on Friday for abusing the trust of clients and putting in place a fraudulent scheme that brought him tens of millions of francs.
Lescaudron appeared in court for the verdict wearing a grey fleece sweatshirt emblazoned with Ferrari, the name of the Italian sports car he was said to have purchased with money he amassed.
Judge Alexandra Banna said the ex-banker was guilty of fraud in his handling of former clients, including former Georgia Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and Russian oligarch Vitaly Malkin. She said he had caused losses totalling 143 million Swiss francs ($152 million) and made personal gains of 30 million francs.
The adviser had “fooled the bank and the client” through a “clever fraud” in which he “copy-pasted signatures on documents so as to falsify transfer orders,” Banna said.
Lawyers for Ivanishvili have said that fraudulent activities by the adviser lost the former Georgian leader hundreds of millions of dollars.
Zurich-based Credit Suisse has said the former adviser violated internal rules and Swiss law and worked to conceal these actions from the bank.
“The former relationship manager demonstrated a high degree of criminal energy, violating internal controls and rules as well as Swiss law and concealing his criminal activities from Credit Suisse colleagues,” the bank said in January.
“Two years of criminal investigation have not revealed any indication that the former relationship manager was helped with his criminal actions by other Credit Suisse employees.”
Representatives for Ivanishvili argued the adviser was not a lone wolf, however, saying senior management had knowledge of his activity and that the bank did not take action but instead continued to charge commission payments on the products sold.
Ivanishvili’s complaints relate to the handling of portfolios between 2005 and 2015, when it is alleged money was stolen and substantial losses resulted from unauthorized investments.
Prosecutor Yves Bertossa on Friday told reporters he would not comment on the bank’s role in the matter because it was the subject of a parallel procedure.
Lescaudron’s sentence matched what prosecutors had sought.
Lescaudron amassed a personal wealth of 32 million francs, including houses in Switzerland and the Italian seaside resort of Porto Cervo, and a Picasso lithograph, said to be missing.
His total assets, including the Ferrari and jewels that had been “financed with ... commissions” said to be the product of his crimes, were seized among items listed in a seven-page sequestration.
He was orderd to make repayments totalling more than $130 million.
The Porto Cervo house was also seized, but the Lescaudrons were allowed to keep their family home in Arzier, Switzerland.
Lescaudron has already spent two years in pre-trial detention, where he was noted for exhibiting “exemplary behavior,” the court had said.
“The sentence is very harsh,” Lescaudron’s lawyer Simon Ntah said. “But it leaves a bit of hope, it allows him to have a perspective.” Ntah added he hoped the sentence would be commuted for good behavior so Lescaudron could be released in 2019.
Lescaudron sat passively throughout the reading, stood for the verdict and was escorted back to prison at the end.

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