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Nicola Sharp assesses the settlement Credit Suisse has agreed and the challenges it faces after its involvement in a major Mozambique loans scandal

Author: Nicola Sharp  2 November 2021

Credit Suisse is to pay almost £350 million in fines over the long-running “tuna bonds’’ loan scandal.

The Swiss bank has also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and said it will forego hundreds of millions of dollars of debts owed by Mozambique, in order to draw the matter to a close.

The financial settlement, which will see $275 million paid to US regulators and £147 million to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), relates to a controversy that led to a financial crisis in Mozambique. The FCA had accused Credit Suisse of serious failings in its financial crime controls. Under the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the bank will be monitored closely for three years.

The problems that led to this outcome arose from the bank arranging loans with a total value of £940 million for the Republic of Mozambique between 2012 and 2016. The loans were supposed to be for government-sponsored investment schemes, including maritime security and a state tuna fishery. But some of the money was unaccounted for, with a contractor found to have arranged “significant kickbacks” worth at least $137 million, including $50 million for bankers at Credit Suisse.

The International Monetary Fund eventually suspended its assistance to Mozambique and the country’s economy crashed.

In a statement, Credit Suisse said it had “already taken decisive steps to strengthen its relevant governance and processes.”

Now that the bank is under new leadership and has reached a settlement with regulators, it may be able to start looking forwards rather than backwards. But it will have to ensure that its risk management procedures are thorough and as tight as they can be. It will need to show that it is able to identify, manage and eradicate the risk of financial crime in the future.

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Nicola Sharp

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Nicola is known for her fraud, civil recovery and business crime expertise, her experience of leading the largest financial disputes and multinational investigations and her skills in devising preventative measures and conducting internal investigations for corporates.

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