Switzerland's financial watchdog (FINMA) announced today conclusion of proceedings against Banca Credinvest: read bolichico money laundering will, erm, have to be moved elsewhere. Here's the lede of FINMA's release: "The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA has found that Banca Credinvest seriously breached anti-money laundering regulations in its handling of Venezuelan client relationships. FINMA recently concluded corresponding enforcement proceedings and imposed a variety of measures." [bod added] Why of course it did! It wasn't that breaches were serious. Credinvest is, for all intents and purposes, a money laundering concern, as are all Swiss banks involved with Venezuelan money since 1999.
I sent a request for comment to FINMA, pasted below:
Dear Mr Mathys,
My name is Alek Boyd. I’m an investigative journalist from Venezuela and I broke the story on Alejandro Betancourt et al stake ownership in Banca Credinvest.
Further to today’s announcement, could you please comment on specifics re Venezuelan shareholders of Credinvest? What time has the bank been given to cut ties to these people? What penalties, if any, were imposed?
And did FINMA pass such details to U.S. Treasury or probing authorities from U.S. Department of Justice, considering at least one Credinvest shareholder (Francisco Convit) is a wanted fugitive?
How about Swiss law enforcement: what will FINMA do within its remit and jurisdiction to punish Credinvest for failing to notify Convit’s stake?
Should be most grateful if you could send your comments at the earliest possible.
Mr Mathys replied, almost immediatly, for which I would like to thank him. He said he couldn't comment beyond contents of FINMA's press release about sanctions against Credinvest, but wanted to "...underscore that FINMA's mandate is to enforce the supervisory law in Switzerland, e.g. the Banks' compliance with the Anti-Money-Laundering-Regulation."
Meaning no disrespect here, though it is very hard, to not say impossible, to avoid being extremely critical of FINMA. Its mandate may very well be "to enforce the supervisory law in Switzerland, e.g. the Banks' compliance with the Anti-Money-Laundering-Regulation."
In practice, however, had U.S. authorities not launch criminal probes against Alejandro Betancourt, Francisco Convit, PDVSA, Bariven, and Venezuela's galloping corruption, would FINMA had acted against, say, Julius Baer?
What's FINMA's position on EFG Bank's multi billion dollar, money laundering activities for Luis and Ignacio Oberto INVOLVING PDVSA?
How about Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, Joseph Benhamou and Charles Henry de Beaumont? Does FINMA need to be reminded that CBH too has silently admitted Venezuelan shareholders (Danilo Diazgranados)?
What is FINMA doing in these, very specific, respects?
It is beyond frustrating to read such platitudes about mandates, when we all know what goes on in Switzerland's banking sector. One can only hope that U.S. authorities -at end of the day the only ones that act decisively against white collar crime and corruption- will take an interest on Credinvest and will treat it for what it is: a money laundering concern in the mold of Banca Privada d'Andorra.