Swiss bank Credit Suisse AG has agreed to pay $536 million to in order to avoid criminal charges that it helped customers in Iran and other countries illegally funnel bank payments through the U.S.
In court papers filed today at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Credit Suisse admitted that it had helped Iranian customers and banks skirt U.S. sanctions by disguising the source of payments it then sent to other banks. According to Justice Department prosecutors, Credit Suisse had helped customers in countries such as Libya avoid sanctions as far back as 1986. Its efforts in Iran stretched at least into the mid 1990s, but business with the country picked up in 2003 after British bank Lloyds decided to terminate its business with Iranian customers.
According to the government, Credit Suisse ended most of its relationships with Iranian customers in Dec. 2005. It decided to terminate the rest in Oct. 2007.
Prosecutors agreed to defer prosecution in the case in return for the $536 million payment – they say at least that much was involved in the illegal transactions – and a commitment from Credit Suisse to reform several of its business practices. The bank will pay $268 million in its deal with the Justice Department, and another $268 million in a similar agreement with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which also played a role in the investigation.
So which lawyers helped make the deal come together for the bank? The deferred prosecution agreement lists two King & Spalding partners, Christopher Wray and Andrew Hruska. Wray, who headed the Justice Department’s Criminal Division between 2003 and 2005, chairs the firm’s government investigations practice. He could not immediately be reached. Hruska declined to comment.