Big Story 10

Ex-Georgia premier sues Credit Suisse in three countries over losses

ZURICH (Reuters) - Lawyers for former Georgia Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili said on Tuesday they are suing Credit Suisse in Singapore, New Zealand and Bermuda, alleging failings at the bank led to fraudulent mismanagement and substantial losses.

FILE PHOTO: Georgia's former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili smiles at a rally of ruling Georgian Dream party after the parliamentary elections in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Lawyers for Ivanishvili have previously alleged that fraudulent activities by a Credit Suisse client adviser lost the former Georgian leader hundreds of millions of dollars.

Zurich-based Credit Suisse has said the former client adviser violated internal rules and Swiss law and worked to conceal these actions from the bank.

However, representatives for Ivanishvili argued the adviser was not a lone wolf, saying senior management had knowledge of his activity and that the bank did not take action but instead continued to charge commission payments on the products sold.

Ivanishvili’s complaints relate to the handling of portfolios between 2005 and 2015, when it is alleged money was stolen and substantial losses resulted from unauthorized investments.

“During this period, the accounts were managed by the bank for trusts which Credit Suisse had established in Singapore and New Zealand, with significant investments in insurance policies issued by Credit Suisse’s own Bermuda-based insurance business,” the law firm representing Ivanishvili said in a statement.

Credit Suisse said as of late Monday it had so far only received the claim filed in New Zealand and that this statement of claim did not present any new facts.

“It is mainly based on the issues/allegations arising out of the criminal proceedings against the former relationship manager in Geneva. Credit Suisse will take appropriate action to defend the claims,” the bank said in a statement.

A lawyer for the former Credit Suisse client adviser did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Geneva prosecutor’s office said the former client adviser is scheduled to go on trial towards the end of the autumn on charges of fraud, forgery and criminal mismanagement.

Representatives for Ivanishvili have in the past alleged that the adviser moved money from Ivanishvili’s account to cover other losses.

The losses came to light in 2015 when shares in a small-cap U.S. company the adviser had invested in fell sharply.

Last year, lawyers for Ivanishvili filed a Swiss criminal complaint against Credit Suisse alleging the bank did not have the necessary controls in place, which allowed money to be laundered through its systems.

A spokesman for the law firm representing Ivanishvili said there was no update on the previous complaint.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin; Editing by Adrian Croft