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Criminal misconduct

December 17, 2009

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse will pay a record fine for violating US sanctions. Authorities said the fine would have been even larger if the bank had not cooperated with investigators.

The Credit Suisse building in Horgen, Switzerland
Credit Suisse was accused of processing transactions involving santioned-countriesImage: picture-alliance / dpa/dpaweb

Credit Suisse has agreed to pay the $536 million (372 million euros) imposed by authorities in the United States for violating US sanctions against Iran and several other countries, including Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba.

The US Justice Department said the Swiss banking group had processed payments allowing those countries access to American financial institutions - a practice that Washington had banned.

The penalty marks the biggest such fine in the history of violations of US sanctions and authorities said the bank would have had to pay even more had they not cooperated.

The settlement with US authorities ends a five-year investigation and includes a deferred prosecution agreement that allows Credit Suisse to avoid further penalties providing the bank avoids new violations and cooperates with authorities.

A 'how-to' crime book

Court documents show that for more than a decade, Credit Suisse changed details of wire transfers involving countries sanctioned by the US so that information, such as bank names and addresses, would not be detected.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that Credit Suisse had even created a "how-to book on committing crime."

"Rather than adhere to the law and decline to serve these customers, Credit Suisse established a business model to allow these rogue players access to US dollars," Holder said. "In both its scope and complexity, the criminal misconduct perpetrated by Credit Suisse in this case is simply astounding."

Earlier this week, the bank said it had already made policy changes to comply with US sanctions.


Editor: Sean Sinico