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)
Updated 09 February 2018

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

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.

NMC Health stock jumps as earnings rise and group looks to Saudi Arabia

Updated 3 min 4 sec ago

NMC Health stock jumps as earnings rise and group looks to Saudi Arabia

  • Shares gain as profits rise
  • Analysts upbeat on prospects

LONDON: The UAE-based private health care operator NMC Health is looking to further expand into Saudi Arabia, buoyed by strong revenue growth and strategic acquisitions made in the first half of the year.

The company reported on Monday a 20.2 percent increase in revenue in the first six months of the year, to reach $932 million. Healthcare revenues alone rose by 25.8 percent to $706 million. Net profit also rose to $116.7 million, a 19.3 percent increase on the same time period the year before.

The stock was up more than 3 percent in early afternoon trade in London.

The results met with analysts’ expectations, who continue to be upbeat about the company’s prospects.

“These are good results from NMC Health and the positive outlook has clearly been well received by the market. The shares are up 5 percent in early trading following a strong run already this year,” said analyst Ian Forrest at the UK-based The Share Center.

“NMC’s impressive H1 results demonstrated that it continues to deliver its operational and strategic targets,” said Charles Weston, senior equity research analyst at Berenberg, in a note on Monday.

“We had projected 20 percent revenue growth and a 32 percent rise in EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), and both were met.”

Acquiring new assets and growth in existing home markets helped drive the increase in revenue, said Prasanth Manghat, chief executive officer, in a statement on Monday.

“The first half of 2018 saw NMC continue to demonstrate strong organic growth alongside complementary acquisitions, resulting in the realization of improved financial results,” he said.

The health care operator has made a number of acquisitions in the UAE and Saudi Arabia over the last year as it looks to capitalize on Kingdom’s health sector privatization plans.

Earlier this year, it completed the acquisition of the Chronic Care Specialist Medical Center in Jeddah. It also obtained an 80 percent stake in the Riyadh-based Al Salam Medical Group in April 2018.

The company took its first steps into the cosmetics market this year, acquiring a 70 percent stake in the Dubai-based CosmeSurge, which has an expanding network of clinics throughout the UAE.

In June, NMC signed a joint-venture agreement with the Saudi Arabian Hassana Investment Company — the investment arm of the the state-backed pension fund, General Organization for Social Insurance.

It is a move which is expected to “substantially” increase the company’s expansion in the Kingdom.

“Our previously announced agreement with Hassana Investment Company to form a joint venture, good macro-economic conditions in the health care sector in Saudi Arabia, and a strong country management team provides an exciting platform from which our Saudi Arabian business will be grown further,” said Manghat.

The JV is anticipated to become the second largest health care operator in Saudi Arabia in terms of the number of beds, according to a company statement. It is due to be completed in the fourth quarter this year, and a management team are in place in the Kingdom.

NMC’s planned expansion into Saudi Arabia will be further supported by the $450 million convertible bond it issued in April.

The bond forms part of the company’s strategy to retain its recently-won place on London’s FTSE 100 index. It was one of the first Middle Eastern companies to join the index when it qualified last September. It first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2012.

The company’s growth this year has been also attributed to organic growth in the UAE with the increase in the number of operational beds at the NMC Royal
Hospital in Abu Dhabi as well as the introduction of mandatory health insurance in Dubai last year.

Health care is seen as a lucrative sector in the Gulf due to its relatively wealthy population becoming increasingly at risk of problems related to obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes.