Digital Diplomacy
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Digital Diplomacy

Blood Money: The Zürich Papers

For centuries Switzerland was the center for global banking secrecy, conjuring up visions of vast riches safely held in mountain vaults attached to numbered bank accounts with global access. It’s a brand — one Switzerland’s government does everything it can to protect. At the dawn of millennia, America coming off a high from an era marked by greed, fraud, and fast money global authorities began to cut through Switzerland’s iron veil of bank secrecy. Pushing the world’s elite to explore other offshore archipelagos and asset havens away from the reach of overzealous regulators. With more controls for western governments to monitor Switzerland’s extra circular banking activities, its focus remained primarily on the financial activities of each government’s citizens not the rosters of these banks’ clientele. Now with a massive data breach of over 18,000 accounts, the world now knows what many suspected, blood money.

Credit Suisse HQ Zürich (Source: Getty Images)

The Credit Suisse leaks are the largest ever from a major Swiss bank and while the leak only represents a small fraction of the bank's nearly $1.2 trillion cash pile, the data breach has detailed a client list ranging from tyrants, to corrupt politicians, to organized crime, to drug lords, to spies. These damning revelations beg the question: Was the bank complicit in laundering blood money?

Switzerland has been granted a unique status in a global society. Its famous stance of centuries-long armed neutrality has allowed it to sit on the sidelines and provide the world’s wealth safe haven immune from regime change agnostic to ideology. Once money regardless of origin makes it into a Swiss bank account, it becomes globally mobile and difficult to seize. The Panama papers leak provided a glimpse into how global capital of questionable origins moves, the Credit Suisse leaks provide insight into where the money lands and how a nation-state helps to facilitate this dark service with censorship against journalists that seek to shed light on a protected industry mired in secrecy.

So, who are Credit Suisse clients? So far uncovered and outlined in the leaks are:

  • Mubarak Family (Family of Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak)
  • Hussein Salem (Key Figure in Mubarak Regime)
  • Rafael Ramirez (Chavez Regime PDVSA CEO)
  • Roberto Rincon (Chavez Regime PDVSA Executive)(Pleaded Guilty)
  • Nervis Villalobos (Chavez Regime PDVSA Executive)(Indicted)
  • Abraham Shiera (Chavez Regime PDVSA Executive)(Pleaded Guilty)
  • Luis Carlos De Leon (Chavez Regime PDVSA Executive)
  • Carlos & Eleazar Shiera (Sons of Abraham Shiera)
  • Jose Rincon (Son of Roberto Rincon)
  • Milagros Torres (Wife of Nervis Villabos)
  • Andreina Gamez (Wife of Luis Carlos De Leon)
  • Talibov Family (Family of Azerbaijani Dictator Vasif Talibov)
  • Rodoljub Radulovic (Serbian Drug Lord)
  • Kassym Jomart Tokayev (Disgraced Former President of Kazakhstan)
  • James Soong Chu-yu (Former General Secretary of Taiwans KMT Party)
  • Eduard Seidel (Seimans Lobbyist, Bribery)

The bank's client leaks roster as of now appears to the key figures and families from Egypt’s long-standing Mubarak regime, the majority of the convicted corrupt Venezuelan state oil executives, The family of a violent murderous dictator, a Serbian drug lord, the now exiled disgraced former president of Kazakhstan accused of human rights abuses, and one of the most powerful former political figures in Taiwan accused of corruption in a massive three-decade-old scandal, now being revived.

The accounts in question hold assets in the billions of dollars, the money of considerably questionable origins. How governments will respond will tell in time. The likely outcome will be public outrage, fines, then a return to business as usual. Credit Suisse is not the first institution to take on duplicitous clientele and it won’t be the last. Over the past two decades, the public has become all but too comfortable in accepting fines as justice for financial misdeeds built on the backs of corruption and blood. However, perhaps this time the stench of public cynicism will lead to a greater burden of justice.

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