Billionaire sues Credit Suisse in S'pore, NZ, Bermuda

Mr Bidzina Ivanishvili alleges the bank must have known about its ex-employee's forged trades.
Mr Bidzina Ivanishvili alleges the bank must have known about its ex-employee's forged trades.

GENEVA • Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili has sued Credit Suisse Group in Singapore, New Zealand and Bermuda, alleging the bank must have known about the actions of a former employee who forged trades to cover losses from other customers' accounts.

Mr Ivanishvili, an ex-prime minister of the former Soviet republic, first filed the claims in Auckland on Aug 7, then in Bermuda 10 days later, and in Singapore on Aug 25, court documents show.

The lawsuits ask courts in the three jurisdictions to force the bank to hand over documents in Mr Ivanishvili's case against the Credit Suisse banker, and make unspecified claims for losses that his lawyers say they are still calculating. 

"The full extent of Credit Suisse's wrongdoing has yet to be established," Mr Adam Rooney, Mr Ivanishvili's lawyer, said in a statement. "It took place over several years and is strongly indicative of systemic failures at Credit Suisse. He could not have acted alone over such a long period of time."

The bank's compliance and auditing practices are set for scrutiny later this year when the former employee of its wealth management unit, who can only be identified as L. under Swiss law, goes on trial in Geneva. Credit Suisse has repeatedly said that, to the best of its knowledge, L. acted alone. Credit Suisse said in a statement late on Monday that it had only received the claim filed in New Zealand.

Mr Ivanishvili's lawyers say they are broadening the legal battle to countries where Credit Suisse had units through which L. invested.

In the Singapore and New Zealand proceedings, Mr Ivanishvili is claiming losses incurred because the bank allegedly abused his trust and because "trustees failed to monitor what the bank was doing", according to the statement.

The Bermuda claim alleges "breaches of duty owed by Credit Suisse's Bermuda insurer", including "the failure to ensure the prudent investment of premiums".

The trial is scheduled to start in late November.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'Billionaire sues Credit Suisse in S'pore, NZ, Bermuda'. Print Edition | Subscribe