(Recasts, adds details of investigation, Credit Suisse
By Elzio Barreto
SAO PAULO, April 23 Police in Brazil arrested a
Credit Suisse CSGN.VX banker on Wednesday as part of a
two-year-old money laundering and tax evasion probe of the
Christian Peter Weiss was arrested in Rio de Janeiro for
helping operate an illegal money transfer scheme, the federal
prosecutor's office in Sao Paulo said in a statement. Weiss
will be charged with money laundering, tax evasion, fraudulent
banking and operating without a banking license, among other
things, the statement said.
In the latest clampdown on illegal money transfers, federal
police officials followed Weiss for nearly 10 days in Sao
Paulo, where he held meetings with clients and prospective
clients before the arrest.
The prosecutor's office said Weiss would be charged along
with 13 other Credit Suisse employees and former employees, as
part of its "Operation Switzerland," which started in 2006 when
federal police officials raided Credit Suisse's offices in Sao
Paulo and the homes of four of its executives.
Brazil's federal police have cracked down on illegal money
transfers over the past years, probing international banks to
see if they helped Brazilians evade taxes.
In 2007, police also arrested 20 people, including bankers
at UBS UBSN.VX, Credit Suisse unit Clariden and AIG Private
Bank. At the time, police claimed the scheme helped wealthy
Brazilians evade nearly 1 billion reais ($603 million) of taxes
with illegal overseas money transfers.
Weiss and other Credit Suisse bankers "employ procedures
that literally ignore in its entirety Brazil's banking laws,"
the prosecutor's office said.
Police said Weiss and other executives from the Swiss bank
periodically flew to Brazil to have direct contact with clients
and to sign up new customers.
Credit Suisse continued to offer private banking services
in Brazil even after closing a representative office there,
"Credit Suisse adheres to the highest legal and ethical
standards and has strict compliance guidelines and will defend
itself and its employees vigorously against these allegations,"
said Cristina von Bargen, a Credit Suisse spokeswoman in New
Several Brazilians with numbered accounts at Credit Suisse
have been identified and will be investigated, the federal
($1 = 1.659 Brazilian reais)
(Additional reporting by Dane Hamilton in New York; Editing by