Credit Suisse wins lawsuit brought by ex-banker convicted of espionage

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  • Credit Suisse Group AG won a lawsuit against an ex-banker who sought more than R1.3 billion in lost earnings after he was convicted of espionage in Romania.
  • Benyatov, a former managing director, was taken into custody in an early morning raid by Romanian secret police wielding machine guns.
  • He was put in a jail cell with "two heroin dealers and a serial burglar", his lawyers said.


Credit Suisse Group AG won a lawsuit against an ex-banker who sought more than 66 million pounds (R1.3 billion) in lost earnings after he was convicted of espionage in Romania.

The Swiss lender didn’t owe or breach its duty of care to Vadim Benyatov, a London court ruled Tuesday. He had argued that Credit Suisse failed to protect him and others from being investigated by Romanian intelligence while working on deals linked to the privatisation of the country’s energy sector.

"We believed Mr. Benyatov’s claims were meritless from the outset," a Credit Suisse spokesperson said.  

A lawyer representing Benyatov didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Two heroin dealers and a burglar

Benyatov, a former managing director, was taken into custody in an early morning raid of the Bucharest Hilton by Romanian secret police wielding machine guns. He was put in a jail cell with "two heroin dealers and a serial burglar" and was placed under house arrest, his lawyers said in court documents.

In 2013 he was convicted of espionage. The verdict was overturned by the Romanian Supreme Court in 2015 and replaced with convictions for the instigation of disclosure of secret information and the establishment of an organised criminal group. 

The same year, he was dismissed by Credit Suisse, left for the U.S. and hasn’t returned to the country to serve his sentence. Benyatov is unable to work as a regulated finance professional, and risks arrest, extradition and imprisonment if he travels, according to the ruling.

Although Benyatov lost the case, Judge Clive Freedman said the bank had not proved he was guilty of the offenses and that the convictions were inadmissible. 

During last year’s trial, Benyatov’s lawyers criticized the Swiss lender for "very serious shortcomings" in its "risk management," exposed by its links to Greensill Capital and Archegos Capital Management.

The bank’s lawyers said last year that it was "not without sympathy for the predicament in which" Benyatov found himself and that it had made substantial contributions to his legal challenges against his conviction.

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