Credit Suisse Loses Bid to Kick Lead Investigator Off Spy Probe

April 15, 2020, 10:40 AM

Credit Suisse Group AG lost a bid to remove the lawyer leading a Swiss regulatory probe into a spy scandal because of a potential conflict of interest, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Thomas Werlen is independent despite the fact his law firm has opposed Credit Suisse in some cases, Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court said in a ruling released late Tuesday. Werlen, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, had been appointed to lead financial regulator Finma’s probe in March.

The decision didn’t identify the bank or the law firm, as is typical in Switzerland, but it related to Credit Suisse and Werlen, according to the person, who asked not to be named because of the confidential nature of the ruling. Handelszeitung reported the details of the case earlier.

Credit Suisse continues to be dogged by the scandal that erupted after it spied on star banker Iqbal Khan who was leaving for rival UBS Group AG. Before the end of 2019, the bank acknowledged that human resources chief Peter Goerke had also been monitored, and a former U.S. executive also alleged she had been followed.

Credit Suisse has 30 days to appeal the verdict to the Swiss supreme court. Officials at the bank and Quinn Emanuel declined to immediately comment.

The court dismissed the conflict of interest concerns, pointing out that Werlen attempted to distance himself from his firm by communicating with Credit Suisse by letters delivered by post or courier instead of using Quinn Emanuel’s email system.

Credit Suisse had argued that Quinn Emanuel lawyers represented the bank’s opponents, including Vitaly Malkin, according to Handelszeitung. The wealthy Russian was one of the victims of Patrice Lescaudron, an ex-Credit Suisse banker convicted of defrauding hundreds of millions from his Russian and Georgian clients.

--With assistance from Patrick Winters.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Hugo Miller in Geneva at hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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