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Bankers convicted over Swiss account of Putin pal

Four bankers who helped a childhood friend of Vladimir Putin move money through Swiss bank accounts have been convicted of lacking diligence in transactions.

Switzerland Russia Gazprombank Panama Papers leaks implicated musician and Vladimir Putin's childhood friend Sergei Roldugin.
March 31, 2023
By Jamey Keaten
31 March 2023

Four former bankers with the Swiss affiliate of a key Russian bank have been found guilty of failing to properly check accounts opened in the name of a Russian cellist with longtime ties to President Vladimir Putin.

The defendants were handed suspended sentences in Zurich district court that, if violated, could lead collectively to hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs in fines.

The verdict follows a one-day trial on March 8 based on information about secret financial flows revealed in the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 that implicated musician and Putin’s childhood friend Sergei Roldugin.

It took years for prosecutors to unravel the web of money and bring the case to court.

The trial opened a rare window into allegations from the Panama Papers that a member of Putin’s circle of friends helped funnel millions abroad and that financial employees might have turned a blind eye to such inflows.

Putin has denied the accusations.

The former Gazprombank employees – three Russian-born and one Swiss-born, who could not be named under Swiss law – were charged with failing to adequately check whether Roldugin actually owned the assets in the accounts.

He was a bank customer from 2014 to 2016.

All four defendants denied the charges, which include allegations of violating Swiss anti-money-laundering law. 

Gazprombank Switzerland is in the process of winding down its operations and was not itself facing charges.

In a statement, the Zurich regional prosecutors office said it welcomed the verdicts as “an important signal that due diligence obligations under money laundering law must be observed”.

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