Billionaire Former PM Ivanishvili Says Credit Suisse Took His Money

ZURICH – Georgia’s former prime minister and reigning oligarch Bidzina Ivanishivili is pursuing legal action against Switzerland’s Credit Suisse Group for what he claims are significant losses after his personal portfolio was mismanaged by one of the bank’s relationship managers.

Personally worth an estimated $5 billion, Ivanishvili filed a pair of complaints with Geneva’s public prosecutor in December and January, alleging fraud and criminal mismanagement by former private banker Patrice Lescaudron.

Simon Ntah, Lescaudron’s attorney, said his client attempted to cover losses suffered by a number of his clients by tapping Ivanishvili’s significant funds.

“Much of what happened with his management of the portfolios remains unclear. It will take years before we understand everything,” said Ntah.

Lescaudron, now is in police custody in Geneva, according to Ntah.

Credit Suisse launched an internal investigation into its former relationship manager’s handling of Ivanishvili’s account in September 2015. The following month, the bank flagged the issue as a potential legal complication in its third-quarter report.

“For now, there is very little we can say publicly about that situation,” Thiam said during a recent media briefing.

A major legal low is an unwelcome distraction for Zurich-based Credit Suisse, which is struggling to shift its global strategy under new Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam.

Ivanishvili made his fortune in Russia during the wild privatization period of the early 1990s, immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

He launched the country’s ruling Georgian Dream coalition in 2011 and later served as prime minister from 2013-2013.

By Zviad Adzinbaia

Edited by Nicholas Waller 

19 February 2016 14:42