US lawmakers have requested that Credit Suisse share details on its handling of sanctions against Russian oligarchs after the bank asked investors to destroy documents related to assets of its wealthiest clients.

Carolyn Maloney, chair of the US congressional committee on oversight and reform, and Stephen Lynch, a member of the committee, asked Thomas Gottstein, Credit Suisse chief executive, in a letter dated March 28 to share information in connection with a Financial Times report that the bank had asked investors to destroy documents related to its richest clients’ private jets and yachts.

The move was intended to stop details from leaking about a Credit Suisse division that has made loans to oligarchs who were later sanctioned.

The FT report “raises significant concerns about Credit Suisse’s compliance” with sanctions imposed by the US and its allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the letter stated.

The committee was “particularly concerned” that the Swiss bank’s request to destroy documents coincided with Switzerland’s announcement it would join the US, EU and others in imposing sanctions on Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine, according to the letter, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Hedge funds and other investors earlier this month received letters from Credit Suisse requesting they destroy documents linked to a securitisation of loans backed by “jets, yachts, real estate and/or financial assets”.

They were also asked to “destroy and permanently erase” any confidential information Credit Suisse previously provided in relation to the transaction, citing a “recent data leak to the media” that it said had been “verified by our investigators”.

The timing and nature of Credit Suisse’s requests raised “significant concerns that it may be concealing information about whether participants in the securitisation deal” — including Credit Suisse, investors and owners of underlying assets — “may be evading sanctions” linked to the conflict in Ukraine, the letter said.

US lawmakers have asked Credit Suisse to produce information dating back to January 2017, including a list of all participating investors in the securitisation deal; communications linked to the storage, destruction or holding of confidential information about loans backed by yachts and private jets; and know-your-customer and due diligence documents related to loans securitised as part of the transaction. The letter asked the bank to submit the material by April 11.

Credit Suisse’s move came after the FT reported how the bank offloaded risks relating to $2bn of loans to a group of hedge funds. The FT report quoted extensively from the transaction’s investor presentation, which lifted the lid on closely guarded business secrets of the bank’s international wealth management franchise.

One slide said a third of the defaults on its yacht and aircraft loans in 2017 and 2018 were “related to US sanctions against Russian oligarchs”. Press reports at the time indicated Oleg Deripaska and brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg terminated private jet leases with the bank in those years.

Credit Suisse declined to comment on the letter and directed the FT to a previous statement it made about the investor presentation.

“No data, client-related or otherwise, has been erased within Credit Suisse and, for clarity, this is in no way linked to the recent implementation of additional sanctions — with which we are fully compliant,” the statement said.

The bank is also under investigation by Switzerland’s attorney-general over the investor presentation, following a complaint filed by Swiss politician Carlo Sommaruga this month.

A person close to the bank said the complaint was based on a misunderstanding of the presentation and a misinterpretation of the FT article.



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