“Queen K,” a luxury yacht owned by Oleg Deripaska, one of several Russian oligarchs reportedly forced to terminate private jet leases with Credit Suisse due to previous US sanctions.
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Credit Suisse told CNBC on Wednesday that US authorities will find “absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing” as they face an investigation into their compliance with sanctions against Russian oligarchs.
The Swiss bank is under investigation by the House Oversight Committee over allegations that it asked investors to “destroy and permanently delete” documents related to a portfolio of loans backed by yachts and private jets that may belong to sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
Credit Suisse reportedly sent the request to investors after the Financial Times first reported that it had outsourced the risks related to $2 billion in loans to a group of hedge funds.
CEO Thomas Gottstein said on Wednesday that the letter investors received had “nothing to do” with sanctions or loans belonging to members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
“[It] has nothing to do with the destruction of sanctions-related materials,” Gottstein told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore.
“This was a one-off transaction that was very much a continuation of three other securitized transactions that we have previously completed,” he said.
“It was part of our dealings with private placement investors, institutional investors, and absolutely no material was included that was relevant from a sanctions perspective.”
When asked if the bank had any case to answer at all, Gottstein said “absolutely not”.
According to FT, the letters of formal notice were sent during a week in which the US, UK and EU launched a new wave of sanctions against Russia over its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Gottstein also defended the bank’s position on the Russian business, saying that like other major Wall Street and European banks, it would scale back operations there after the war.
“Like everyone else, we conduct our business in Russia,” he said, echoing an announcement made last month.
A sign above the entrance to the Credit Suisse Group AG headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, on Monday, November 1, 2021.
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Going forward, Gottstein said the bank will not be taking on “any new business, no new customers” from Russia, while continuing to reduce exposure to existing Russian customers.
“Our overall exposure to Russian customers — that includes Russian customers around the world, not just the Russian customers in Russia — and we’ve reduced that by 56% in terms of our credit exposure,” he said.
The comments follow Credit Suisse’s release of first-quarter financial results on Wednesday, in which it reported a net loss of 273 million Swiss francs ($283.5 million).
Losses related to Russia accounted for 206 million Swiss francs of losses, while the bank also suffered a loss of 155 million Swiss francs related to the Archegos scandal.
Gottstein has previously explained that about 4% of the assets the bank manages in its core wealth management business belong to Russian clients.
“We manage around 4% of our assets in wealth management with Russian clients, be they Russian residents or Russian nationals living in the west,” Gottstein said, according to Reuters. That number hasn’t changed significantly since then, the bank said in an update on Wednesday.