Credit Suisse found guilty in Bulgarian drug money laundering case

Credit Suisse must pay almost £18m for failing to stop laundering of Bulgarian drug money

Credit Suisse and one of its former bankers have been found guilty of failing to stop the laundering of Bulgarian drug money by a gang led by a former wrestler.

In the first ever criminal conviction of a major Swiss lender, Credit Suisse was fined £1.7million and ordered to pay £16million in compensation.

One of its former relationship managers – Bulgarian ex-tennis star Elena Pampoulova-Bergomi – was also fined and handed a suspended 20-month sentence.

Drug rap: Credit Suisse was fined £1.7m and ordered to pay £16m in compensation after being found guilty of failing to stop the laundering of Bulgarian drug money

The court found Credit Suisse and Pampoulova-Bergomi did not do enough to prevent money-laundering by a cocaine trafficking gang from 2004 to 2008.

The case centred on Pampoulova-Bergomi’s relationship with 57-year-old Evelin Banev, a former member of the Bulgarian national wrestling team who was the head of a major European cocaine smuggling operation. 

The former world No.62 tennis star, 50, regularly collected suitcases stuffed with cash, including from a member of Banev’s gang who was later shot dead outside a restaurant in Sofia in 2005.

Banev was convicted of drug trafficking in Italy in 2017 and in Bulgaria in 2018 for being part of a criminal organization trafficking cocaine from Latin America.

Credit Suisse said it would appeal against the conviction.

‘Credit Suisse is continuously testing its anti-money laundering framework,’ the bank said.

Pampoulova-Bergomi’s lawyer said she would also appeal.

Experts said the case underlined Switzerland’s efforts to clean up its banking industry. 

Mark Pieth, a money laundering expert at the University of Basel, said: ‘What is significant about this case is that Switzerland is taking legal action against a company and not just any company – Credit Suisse is one of the jewels in the Swiss crown.’