After last year’s revelations concerning Credit Suisse having hosted funds of criminal or illicit origin, more data are surfacing about the bank’s problematic clients – this time it’s the head of a Russian criminal gang, allegedly close to the Russian president.
As late as October 2022, Swiss banking giants UBS and Credit Suisse provided debt security to a Cypriot trust — PTC, whose beneficial owner Gavril Yushvaev was a known founder of Baumanskaya, one of Russia’s three most powerful organized crime groups.
Only recently sanctioned by the Ukrainian government, Yushvaev was previously labeled by the U.S. government as a member of the so-called ‘Putin List’, mainly made of senior political officials and oligarchs.
Yushvaev was described by Forbes as one of Russia’s top 100 wealthiest individuals with investments of over US$100 million in apps such as Lyft. His wealth includes Villa Primavera, located in France’s most exclusive stretch of beach, Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat.
The oligarch has a checkered past: convicted of robbery in the 1980s, he served nine years in Soviet prison camps. An internal investigation report obtained by OCCRP dated 2013 by Spanish police identified Yushvaev as a close associate of now imprisoned Russian mafia boss, Alexander Romanov.
An image obtained by OCCRP shows Yushvaev with known criminal bosses including Oleg Shishkan and Timofey Klinovsky, Yushvaev’s partner in a company, Trinity. The company was previously exposed by OCCRP and Russia’s Novaya Gazeta for illegal activities.
Trinity included a third crime boss: David Yakobashvili, also Yushvaev’s partner in the well-known Moscow casino, Metelitsa, shut down for money laundering. With Klinovsky and other politically exposed people, Yushvaev also co-owned development in a large real estate project in Moscow.
Most of these facts were not a secret at the time UBS and Credit Suisse accepted Yushvaev’s trust as a client.
Although he was using a Cypriot trust, the identity of the Russian-Israeli citizen as a beneficial owner of PTC was not really hidden. Through PTC, Yushvaev held shares in Humacyte, an entity listed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In 2021, it publicly merged with another U.S. company involved in biopharma care.
In a written response to OCCRP, Credit Suisse said, “As a matter of law, Credit Suisse cannot comment on potential client relationships.We have stringent control mechanisms in place to combat financial crime related activities and regularly monitor globally imposed economic sanctions with related implementation of necessary controls.” UBS did not respond at the time of publication.
Experts told OCCRP that merely having mechanisms in place is not enough.
“All regulated financial institutions have due diligence processes to ensure that they are compliant but It’s a cat and mouse game,” said Nick Day, a former MI5 and UK special forces officer. “Corrupt fiduciaries and money launderers are driven to find new ways to trick the system, to put sanctioned or criminal money into the banks.”