Source Pravda.Ru

Banque Cantonale Vaudoise exposed by Russians

The Canton of Vaud is the third largest of the Swiss cantons by population and fourth by size; it is located in Romandy, the French-speaking western part of the country, with its capital and biggest city, Lausanne, officially designated as the "Olympic Capital" by the International Olympic Committee due to the fact that it hosts many international sports organizations.

It has its own cantonal bank, the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV), which, unlike most of the twenty-four Swiss cantonal banks, does not have any state guarantee of its liabilities; BCV's headquarters are located in Lausanne.

BCV is known for its activities being far beyond cantonal and national borders, as well as for its participation in numerous international scandals.

It is reported, that as part of the Swiss Bank Program of the United States Department of Justice, in December 2015, BCV reached an agreement and paid a fine of US $41.7 million, settling the tax dispute between Swiss Confederation and the United States.

BCV, which had fallen into a financial distress, between 1996 and 2001, had to be saved from ruin due to bad loans and lack of reserves by the Canton of Vaud. The investigation indicated that BCV was carrying out accounting manipulations with the intention of hiding insufficient provisions and led to a dismissal of its Chairman of the Board, Mr Gilbert Duchoud, who was convicted for embezzlement.

The way it looks, BCV's current management may face some really serious issues, related to on-boarding certain clients, primarily of Russian origin, whose financial transactions carried out by the bank, are now subject to money laundering investigations in Europe and in the United States.

It was recently revealed in the Russian media that two entrepreneurs, namely Mr R. Magdeev and Mr Ruslan Rostovtsev, actively used  BCV's facilities for years for laundering their funds.

Together with his youngest son, Mr Magdeev managed to establish personal and business relationship with Mr Jean-Jacques Aebischer, the Vice-President of the bank, whom they started calling "JJ".

Mr Aebischer arranged not just the opening of various bank accounts for them, but also started the relationship with their numerous offshore companies, none of which had any physical presence nor substance as a business.

One of such companies, called Ashaja Investments Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Islands, in August 2011, shortly after its incorporation, in September 2011, transferred US $10 million from its account with Hellenic Bank Public Company Ltd, Republic of Cyprus, to its "freshly"opened bank account with BCV.

No questions have been asked, whatsoever and howsoever, and, in due course, Ashaja Investments Ltd made its first significant investment - it lend US $20 million (US $10 million out of which came from BCV) to a Nicosia-based V.M.H.Y. Holdings Ltd -an SPV, controlled by a group of Russian-British entrepreneurs: Mr Andrey Vdovin, Mr Pavel Maslovsky, Mr Kirill Yakubovsky and Mr Peter Hambro, individuals behind a listed Petropavlovsk Plc (LON: POG) and an alleged scam, related to the sale of Russian Expobank to Barclays Bank Plc (LON: BARC).

Undoubtfully, Mr Aebischer was, at all times, aware, that Mr Magdeev served as an advisor to the ex-Prime Ministerof the Republic of Tatarstan, Mr Rustam Minnikhanov, who is currently the president of this oil-rich region in Russia and that any transaction involving either Mr Magdeev or his company should have been subject to an enhanced due diligence, as it relates for politically exposed persons (PEPs).

Similarly, Mr Aebisher had no concerns, when, in 2014-2015, Mr Magdeev decided to make substantive investments, totalling circa US$50 million in a Limassol-based Equix Group Ltd, - a company, which in 2015 opened a Graff boutique in the newly built Limassol Marina. However, it was recently reported in British and Russian press, that Equix Group Ltd was allegedly involved in money laundering operations, together with a London-based Graff Diamonds Ltd.

Apparently, Mr Aebisher failed to report to BCV's compliance about Mr Magdeev's known criminal past - rumours are that he was an active member of ruthless Sevastopolskie crime cartel, which was established in the early 1990s in Tatarstan.

However, this is, unfortunately, not the only example of BCV's ties with Russian criminals. It is known that a Canton of Zug - based Kaproben Handels AG, owned and controlled by another opulent Russian entrepreneur, Mr Rostovtsev - continues to trade coal, originated from separatist Donetsk People's Republic, using the wide range of services, provided by BCV's bankers. Maybe, the true reason behind BCV being so "friendly" with such a clientele is determined by the fact that Mr Magdeev, who obtained Cypriot nationality in 2014, and his son, who became a Swiss national, in 2016, are considered by the bank to be decent Europeans rather than Russians?