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Former Swiss ‘banker of the year’ convicted in fraud trial

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pierin Vincenz, former CEO of Swiss Raiffeisen bank waits for the continuation of a trial in front of the Volkshaus theatre, in Zurich, Switzerland, January 25, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
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By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Oliver Hirt

ZURICH (Reuters) -Swiss judges found former Raiffeisen Switzerland Chief Executive Pierin Vincenz guilty of fraud on Wednesday, sentencing him to nearly four years in jail at the end of a trial which focused on his huge strip club bills and use of company expenses.

After one of Switzerland’s highest-profile corporate crime trials in decades, Zurich’s district court convicted Vincenz, a former Swiss ‘banker of the year’ who was charged with making millions through illicit deals while he was CEO of the bank.

Vincenz, who was acquitted on several counts, was also fined 840,000 Swiss francs ($900,600) as the court found the 65-year-old guilty of using business expenses for private purposes.

His lawyer told Reuters that Vincenz, who denies any wrongdoing, would appeal against the verdict after he was sentenced to 3-3/4 years in prison.

All seven defendants in the trial, which began in January, had denied the allegations against them.

Prosecutors had sought nearly 70 million Swiss francs in total in assets from the defendants, as well as pursuing financial penalties and prison sentences ranging from two to six years for all but one of them.

The case centred around conflicts of interest on deals between a number of firms in which Vincenz and another defendant were involved. Both men were also accused of forgery.

The trial, which was moved from a courthouse to Zurich’s Volkshaus theatre due to the intense public interest, had also featured his alleged misuse of corporate expenses.

Vincenz had told the court that a near 200,000 Swiss franc expenses bill for strip club visits was largely business-related, while a 700 franc dinner with a woman he met on dating app Tinder was justified because he was considering her for a real estate job.

Other defendants were accused of anti-competitive behaviour and acting as accessories on the corporate deals, through which prosecutors allege they made millions.

($1 = 0.9327 Swiss francs)

Former Swiss ‘banker of the year’ convicted in fraud trial

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