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

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© Reuters. Pierin Vincenz is awaiting the conclusion of his trial before the Volkshaus in Zurich. He was the former CEO of Swiss Raiffeisen. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, Oliver Hirt

ZURICH (Reuters), – An ex-top Swiss banker accused of making billions through fraud claims said Tuesday that a bill totalling nearly 200,000 Swiss Francs (217,675) was largely business related.

Pierin Vincenz once was a “banker of year” and told a Zurich Court that 700-franc dinner with his girlfriend on Tinder was justifiable because he was thinking about her for real estate work. He also made a trip to Australia to inspect the ATMs.

Vincenz is facing the most serious corporate criminal charges since decades. They relate to illegal trades he made while being chief executive of Raiffeisen Switzerland, an unlisted cooperative lender.

However, the trial opened with the main focus on the 65-year old’s misappropriation of the corporate expense account.

According to the prosecution, Vincenz denied all charges and filed improper expenses totaling more than half of a million Swiss Francs. This amount was for misappropriation as well as disloyalty management.

The bills stated that nearly 4,000 Francs was spent on the repair of the hotel room at Zurich Park Hyatt. It was damaged in a fight between Vincenz, a strip-club dancer and Vincenz.

Raiffeisen was also said to have charged Raiffeisen close to 27,000 Francs for a private aircraft during a culinary club trip to Mallorca.

Conflicts of interest involving deals between firms where Vincenz or another defendant are involved is the main focus of this case. They are both accused of forgery.

The five other defendants were also accused of being anti-competitive and as accessory to corporate deals through which they are alleged to have made millions.

The allegations are denied by all seven defendants.

BAARS BUSINESS

After dismissing lawyers’ requests for defendants to delay hearings or revise charges, Vincenz stated that some bills, such as for an attorney who was consulted following the hotel fight, were misappropriated but were mostly business expenses.

Vincenz, who wore a white, open-necked shirt with dark trousers and had his grey hair cropped.

Although there were some invoices that included business trip expenses, they appeared on the bill. These should have been private. But, on the whole, I believe these were justified.

Although most cabarets were held after events and dinners at work, Vincenz explained that some visits were done on the spot in an effort to network with entrepreneurs and business executives.

“Do you understand that when you attended a cabaret alone, invariably there were businessmen present, and each invitation was sent in Raifeissen’s business interest?” One judge asked him.

Vincenz stated that he didn’t feel convicted in his final statement to the court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors seek assets worth nearly 70,000,000 Swiss francs (or $77 million) from seven defendants. In addition to pursuing financial penalties, they also pursue prison sentences of two to six years or more for any one.

‘SERIOUS SHORTCOMINGS’

In 2018, FINMA, the national financial watchdog found that Raiffeisen had “serious deficiencies”. This included interest conflicts and poor supervision during a probe into fraud accusations against Vincenz.

FINMA discontinued https://www.finma.ch/en/news/2017/12/20171221-mm-pv its proceedings against Vincenz in late 2017 after he resigned from all executive management positions at Swiss financial institutions and promised not to take such roles in the future.

Swiss prosecutors opened an investigation, however, and Vincenz was held in custody https://www.reuters.com/article/swiss-vincenz-idINL8N1TF0XV for three and a half months in 2018.

Raiffeisen did not comment except to say that Raiffeisen was a private defendant in criminal proceedings. The company isn’t facing charges, and it claims that its corporate governance has improved since FINMA’s investigation.

($1 = 0.9188 Swiss francs)

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