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Credit Suisse ‘seriously breached’ obligations in Greensill case

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The logo of Credit Suisse Group in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Credit Suisse “seriously breached its supervisory obligations” in the context of its business relationship with financier Lex Greensill and his companies, Swiss regulator FINMA concluded Tuesday.

The embattled Swiss lender’s exposure to the London-based Greensill Capital resulted in massive reimbursements to investors after the supply chain finance firm collapsed in early 2021.

“In its proceedings, FINMA concluded that Credit Suisse Group seriously breached its supervisory duty to adequately identify, limit and monitor risks in the context of the business relationship with Lex Greensill over a period of years,” the regulator said, adding that it also found “serious deficiencies in the bank’s organisational structures” during the period under investigation.

“Furthermore, it did not sufficiently fulfil its supervisory duties as an asset manager. FINMA thus concludes that there has been a serious breach of Swiss supervisory law.”

Credit Suisse CEO Ulrich K├Ârner welcomed the conclusion of the FINMA investigation in a statement Tuesday.

“This marks an important step towards the final resolution of the SCFF issue. FINMA’s review has reinforced many of the findings of the Board-initiated independent review and underlines the importance of the actions we have taken in recent years to strengthen our Risk and Compliance culture. We also continue to focus on maximizing recovery for fund investors,” he said.

In March 2021, Credit Suisse closed four supply chain finance funds at short notice related to Greensill companies. The funds were distributed to qualified investors with client documentation indicating low risk, and client exposure sat at around $10 billion at the time of the closure.

The Greensill saga was a key reason behind Credit Suisse’s massive overhaul of its risk management and compliance operations, alongside the collapse of Archegos Capital.

Credit Suisse highlighted that, since March 2021, it has undergone senior management changes, implemented disciplinary measures and a new global accountability model, increased governance oversight and strengthened controls by moving risk oversight into a dedicated divisional risk management function.

FINMA announced Tuesday that it has ordered remedial measures and opened four enforcement proceedings against former Credit Suisse managers.

“In future, the bank will have to periodically review at executive board level the most important business relationships (around 500) in particular for counterparty risks,” the regulator said.

“In addition, the bank is required to record the responsibilities of its approximately 600 highest-ranking employees in a responsibility document.”

Credit Suisse noted that all of the requirements identified by the regulator “are being addressed through the organizational measures already underway.”

“FINMA has not ordered any confiscation of profits in connection with the proceedings and the implementation of the additional measures is not expected to result in significant costs for Credit Suisse,” the bank added.

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