Former Georgian prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has won a long-running battle with Credit Suisse to reclaim funds stolen by a former employee of the Swiss bank, according to people with knowledge of the case.
Credit Suisse announced on Wednesday evening that it could be forced to pay in excess of $500mn once a court in Bermuda publishes a judgment against the bank’s local life insurance subsidiary.
The Bermuda court is expected to publish its judgment next week, but people briefed on the case confirmed it was related to Ivanishvili’s complaint and that the court had found in his favour.
“Credit Suisse has previously taken reserves against this matter and intends to pursue all available legal actions,” the bank said in a statement.
In January, the bank said it had taken a SFr436mn ($469mn) provision in the fourth quarter of 2021 to cover litigation settlements, but added these were mostly tied to its investment banking business.
“We will consider whether any further reserves are required as part of our first-quarter results due to be published on April 27, 2022,” it added on Wednesday. The bank declined to comment further.
Ivanishvili declined to comment and the Bermuda court did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
Billionaire Ivanishvili’s dispute with Credit Suisse goes back to 2011 when he was a private banking client of the group.
It was then that details emerged that for more than a decade, Credit Suisse private banker Patrice Lescaudron defrauded some of the Swiss bank’s most sensitive accounts — including those held by Ivanishvili and Russian oligarch Vitaly Malkin — funding a lavish lifestyle of luxury houses, sports cars, Rolex watches and gifts of Chanel jewellery.
A damning report into the affair by the Swiss regulator Finma, which was inadvertently made public last February, found repeated warning signs, evidence of hundreds of suspicious transactions and four formal disciplinary proceedings were not acted upon by Credit Suisse.
Ivanishvili has made several criminal complaints in Switzerland and sued Credit Suisse’s Bermuda subsidiary in a trial at the country’s supreme court in November and December last year.
Credit Suisse has long maintained that Lescaudron — who was criminally convicted in 2018 and died by suicide in 2020 after an early release — was a highly successful rogue operator who worked tirelessly to hide his illegal activity from superiors and colleagues. The Swiss criminal case against Lescaudron found the bank to have been a wronged party.