On 8 March 2023, a case was brought against the boss and three employees of the Zurich office of Gazprombank in a Zurich court. The four faced charges of alleged money laundering linked to Russian president Vladimir Putin, reported RTS.
On 30 March 2023, the four men were found guilty and sentenced at a hearing at the Zurich district court. The four were found guilty of helping Sergey Roldugin, a concert cellist who has been dubbed “Putin’s wallet”, channel money through their bank. They were collectively fined nearly three quarters of a million francs. The bankers, three Russians and one Swiss, helped Roldugin deposit millions of francs in Swiss bank accounts between 2014 and 2016 and failed to conduct proper due diligence.
The prosecuting lawyer said that all the evidence runs contrary to Sergey Roldugin being the real owner of the assets. The bankers have not followed the rules and should therefore be punished, he said.
The defence argued that Roldugin was the real owner of the accounts, and it was plausible that Roldugin was rich because he was a friend of Putin.
However, the indictment said that the case highlighted how people like Roldugin were used as strawmen to hide the true beneficial ownership of assets. In 2014, the cellist told the New York Times that he was not a millionaire. The judge in the Zurich court concluded that it was beyond doubt that Mr Roldugin was not the true owner of the money that he deposited in the bank.
The men, who cannot be legally identified, said they would appeal against the court’s decision.