Fleet Financing

Credit Suisse draws closer to deal with US over Mozambique scandal

(Bloomberg) – Credit Suisse Group AG is set to strike a deal with the U.S. government that would resolve a criminal investigation into its role in a $ 2 billion Mozambican bond scandal, people familiar with the matter say.

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Discussions with the US Department of Justice involve a deferred prosecution agreement that would include a fine, according to people, who have asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. A deal is expected to be announced on Tuesday.

Any deal with U.S. prosecutors would be the latest move in a multi-year international legal saga stemming from the 2013-14 agreements that were supposed to fund a new coastal patrol force and a tuna fishing fleet in Mozambique, one of the world’s worst countries. poorest in the world. . In a 2018 indictment, the US Department of Justice alleged the contracts were a front for government officials and bankers to get rich. Three former Credit Suisse bankers have pleaded guilty to US charges stemming from the scheme.

Credit Suisse declined to comment on any deal, as did the US Department of Justice.

A deal could help end a scandal, even as the bank has been punished this year by investors for its stumbles with Archegos Capital Management and Greensill Capital, which have prompted sweeping management reshuffles.

Mozambique has filed a lawsuit against Credit Suisse and shipbuilder Privinvest, one of a number of cases brought to UK courts over the bond agreement.

“Illegal conduct”

Defending his London trial, Credit Suisse insisted he was deceived by dishonest bankers and could not be held responsible for their “illegal conduct” when he arranged the loans in early 2013 The Swiss bank said it had fulfilled its usual obligation. diligence before transactions and was aware of the risk of bribery and corruption.

Andrew Pearse, who headed the global finance group in the bank’s London office, said in a federal lawsuit in Brooklyn, New York, that he pocketed at least $ 45 million in bribes for his role in the arrangement of loans.

The Credit Suisse loans were for three separate maritime projects, including a tuna fishing fleet, the construction of a shipyard and a surveillance operation to protect the Mozambican coastline and against pirates, according to Pearse. Mozambican government officials, business executives and investment bankers stole around $ 200 million, prosecutors said.

Pearse and his successor at the bank, Surjan Singh, who also pleaded guilty, testified at the 2019 trial of Jean Boustani, an executive of the Privinvest group accused by the United States of being behind the plan to forcing Mozambique to borrow billions of dollars and overpay for questionable maritime projects. A third banker, Datelina Subeva, Pearse’s subordinate, also pleaded guilty but did not testify.

The three bankers await their conviction. After a six-week trial at the end of 2019, a federal jury cleared Boustani of all charges.

(Updates with the timing of the announcement in the second paragraph.)

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