Swiss justice has opened a criminal investigation against the Geneva bank in connection with the investigations into the corruption scandal involving the Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.
Bank Cramer & Cie is the target of a criminal investigation for suspicion of money laundering in connection with the Petrobras affair. Like two other Swiss banks, the Geneva establishment is on the radar of the Public Ministry of the Confederation (MPC) after allowing former executives of the Brazilian public oil giant to open accounts with him.
The MPC, which “suspects a lack of internal organization of the bank which would not have enabled the latter to prevent the commission of the offense of money laundering”, opened criminal proceedings on July 1, a he said Thursday to AWP, confirming information from the Gotham City portal.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office relied on information gathered from other investigations into the Petrobras-Odebrecht case. In all, 40 criminal proceedings were initiated by the MPC in connection with this Brazilian corruption scandal, three of which concern financial institutions in Switzerland.
Milanese dinner and offshore companies
It all started at a business dinner in Milan in 2011, as reported in 2015 by the Financial Times, quoted by Gotham City. Two executives from Cramer & Cie are said to have discussed with four Brazilian citizens linked to the oil company Petrobras. According to the testimony of one of these guests, the discussion focused on the potential opening of accounts within the establishment.
The next day, the offshore company Natiras Investment actually opened an account within the Ticino subsidiary of Cramer & Cie, according to the French-speaking legal information portal Gotham City.
His economic beneficiary: a 66-year-old Brazilian engineer who worked as a manager at Petrobras from 2003 to 2011. Retired at the time of the facts, he had already left the oil giant but was an executive in another company, 10% owned by the public group and acting as its intermediary, in the ordering of platforms and drilling vessels in particular.
The Geneva bank did not consider this engineer as a politically exposed person, considering that “the account does not involve any risk of money laundering”, according to a report consulted by Gotham City.
All funds deposited in his Swiss accounts came from “corrupt payments”, according to the deposition of the engineer reproduced in the Financial Times. He also had two other accounts with the Geneva company, under the names of two different companies and foundations.
Brazilian justice has since managed to prove that several accounts within the Ticino subsidiary of Cramer were used as a receptacle for bribes.
Unveiled from 2014 by the operation “Lava Jato” (Washing Express), the vast network of corruption of the state oil company Petrobras had caused a stir on an international scale and had led to the dismissal of Brazilian President Dilma Roussef.
The case, the amounts of which reached 3.5 billion dollars, had prompted the opening of investigations in several Latin American countries and in Switzerland.
After PKB and J. Safra Sarasin, Cramer & Cie is the third Swiss financial institution concerned by the opening of a criminal investigation into this matter. Contacted by AWP, its managing director Stephan Keizer declined to comment.