Credit Suisse and UBS are among the banks under scrutiny in a US federal investigation into whether financial professionals helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions, according to a new report.
The banks were included in a wave of subpoenas sent out by the US Department of Justice, Bloomberg News reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The requests were sent by the US government ahead of the crisis that resulted in UBS launching a $3.2 billion acquisition of Credit Suisse at the behest of Swiss regulators last weekend, the people said.
The Justice Department subpoenas seek to identify which bank employees may have dealt with sanctioned customers and how those customers were investigated in recent years, according to the report.
UBS and the Justice Department declined to comment when contacted by DailyMail.com on Thursday night. Credit Suisse did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Credit Suisse and UBS are reportedly among the banks under scrutiny in a US federal investigation into whether financial professionals helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions. Pictured: Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg is seen with Vladimir Putin in a file photo
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Credit Suisse had a reputation for catering to wealthy Russians. The bank was acquired by UBS last weekend at the behest of regulators
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Credit Suisse had a reputation for catering to wealthy Russians.
However, it is not clear which alleged clients of Credit Suisse and UBS could be targeted by the investigation.
During takeover talks last week, UBS raised concerns about bearing any legal or regulatory liability for troubled Credit Suisse following the merger, but the Swiss government agreed to back losses of up to $9.8 billion.
In recent years, the United States has dramatically increased its sanctions against Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and oligarchs. designated by the US Treasury Department..
The Justice Department also launched a task force known as KleptoCapture, with the goal of imposing sweeping sanctions against Russia’s oligarchs following the invasion of Ukraine.
More than $58 billion in assets of sanctioned oligarchs have been blocked or frozen around the world so far, according to a report earlier this month from the Treasury Department.
That includes two luxury yachts worth $300 million each seized in San Diego and Fiji, and six properties in New York and Florida worth $75 million owned by sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.
UBS expressed concern about taking any legal responsibility for troubled Credit Suisse following the merger, but the Swiss government has agreed to back losses of up to $9.8 billion.
In September, FBI and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents were involved in raids of a Park Avenue penthouse in Manhattan (above) and a Hamptons property linked to Viktor Vekselberg.
The United States has also begun targeting suspected lackeys and advisers to Russian oligarchs around the world, accusing them of helping their billionaire bosses hide their wealth and evade sanctions.
In the Vekselberg case, Vladimir Voronchenko was charged in New York after he helped maintain Vekselberg’s properties.
He was charged in February with conspiring to violate and evade US sanctions but remains at large.
Richard Masters, 52, was arrested in Spain on charges of violating US sanctions laws.
In January, British citizen Richard Masters was arrested in Spain on US criminal charges alleging he helped Vekselberg hide his $90 million, 225-foot megayacht, the Tango.
Masters, who runs a yacht management company, was charged in an indictment with making up a false ship name, ‘Fanta’, and using shell companies to hide the yacht’s connection to Vekselberg from financial institutions.
Despite the alleged plan, the Tango was seized by the FBI last April in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain’s Balearic Islands and a tax and recreational haven for the ultra-rich.
Masters remains in custody in Spain pending extradition proceedings.
Another Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, 52, was charged last year with violating sanctions by using shell companies to maintain three luxury properties in the United States.
Deripaska’s mistress, 33, was also arrested trying to enter the US to have her child on US soil after she allegedly lied to federal agents at a customs checkpoint.
Masters faces extradition to the US on charges of attempting to conceal from authorities sanctioned oligarch Viktor Vekselberg’s 255-foot luxury yacht, the Tango (above).
Another Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, 52, was charged last year with violating sanctions by using shell companies to maintain three luxury US properties.
A former senior FBI agent, Charles McGonigal (above), was charged in January with helping Oleg Deripaska violate sanctions. He has pleaded not guilty
In October, British businessman Graham Bonham-Carter was indicted on US charges that he illegally transferred $1 million to hold Deripaska’s US properties for the sanctioned billionaire.
However, earlier this month the US withdrew its offer to extradite Bonham-Carter from the UK and the case seems unlikely to continue.
A former senior FBI agent, Charles McGonigal, was also charged in January with helping Deripaska violate sanctions.
McGonigal has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail pending trial.