Ex-banker tells Swiss court that strip club visits were business-related

Pierin Vincenz, former CEO of Swiss Raiffeisen bank waits for the continuation of a trial in front of the Volkshaus theatre, in Zurich, Switzerland, January 25, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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ZURICH, Jan 25 (Reuters) – A former top rated Swiss banker billed with making thousands and thousands of pounds through fraudulent offers reported on Tuesday that a near 200,000 Swiss francs ($217,675) costs bill for strip club visits was mainly organization-associated.

Pierin Vincenz, after a ‘banker of the year’, also advised a Zurich court docket that a 700 franc dinner with a woman he fulfilled on relationship application Tinder was justified simply because he was contemplating her for a true estate career and a excursion to Australia was created to examine the country’s ATMs.

Most of the costs facing Vincenz in Switzerland’s best profile company crimes trial in many years relate to allegations of unlawful trades although he was chief government of unlisted cooperative lender Raiffeisen Switzerland (RFSHW.UL).

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But the opening day of his demo, which was moved from a courthouse to Zurich’s Volkshaus theatre thanks to the intensive fascination in the situation, centred on the 65-yr-old’s alleged misuse of the corporate price account.

Prosecutors stated Vincenz, who denies all fees, submitted extra than 50 % a million Swiss francs in improper fees which amounted to misappropriation and disloyal management.

They said the costs provided nearly 4,000 francs for the restore of a resort space at the 5-star Zurich Park Hyatt, which was damaged for the duration of a “substantial row” involving Vincenz and a strip club dancer he was dating at the time.

He is also alleged to have billed Raiffeisen almost 27,000 francs for a private jet for the duration of a cooking club trip to Mallorca.

The case largely centres about conflicts of curiosity on discounts in between a quantity of firms in which Vincenz and another defendant have been associated. Both of those gentlemen are also accused of forgery.

5 other defendants are accused of anti-aggressive conduct and acting as components on the corporate deals, by way of which prosecutors allege they designed millions.

All 7 defendants deny the allegations.

Small business IN BARS

Speaking in advance of judges soon after they had dismissed requests from legal professionals for the defendants to postpone hearings or have fees revised, Vincenz claimed some of the bills, which include for an legal professional consulted after the resort space struggle, had been expensed by miscalculation, but were largely bona fide organization expenses.

“With regard to (visits) to bars and nightclubs, I absolutely stand by that these ended up justified by organization,” mentioned Vincenz, sporting a white open-necked shirt and a dark fit, his light-weight gray hair tightly cropped.

“There are particular person invoices that appeared on the tab with regard to business enterprise trips, which (should have been) personal, but on the entire these had been justified by my business activity.”

Even though most cabaret visits had followed enterprise dinners or events, some had been made spontaneously on his personal in the curiosity of assembly business owners and business supervisors, Vincenz said, including that he had been tasked by Raiffeisen with producing the bank’s existence and general public profile.

“Do I fully grasp your declare accurately that, when you went on your own to a cabaret, there had been invariably small business individuals present and each individual invitation was manufactured in Raifeissen’s business fascination?” 1 judge requested him.

In his very last assertion prior to the courtroom listening to adjourned on Tuesday, Vincenz mentioned: “I didn’t have the feeling I had accomplished something criminal here.”

Prosecutors are searching for nearly 70 million Swiss francs ($77 million) in total in property from the 7 defendants, as well as pursuing economic penalties and prison sentences ranging from two to six decades for all but 1 of them.

‘SERIOUS SHORTCOMINGS’

In 2018, the country’s money watchdog FINMA uncovered “serious shortcomings” at Raiffeisen, which include fascination conflicts and inadequate supervision in a probe relevant to fraud allegations in opposition to Vincenz.

FINMA discontinued its proceedings in opposition to Vincenz in late 2017 after he resigned from all executive administration positions at Swiss money institutions and promised not to acquire these types of roles in the future.

Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation, nonetheless, and Vincenz was held in custody for 3 and a fifty percent months in 2018.

Raiffeisen declined comment on the circumstance over and above noting that it was a private plaintiff in the felony proceedings. It is not facing any fees and has mentioned that it has enhanced corporate governance given that FINMA’s probe.

($1 = .9188 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Oliver Hirt Modifying by Alexander Smith

Our Expectations: The Thomson Reuters Rely on Principles.

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