Four bankers on trial amid allegations European banks turned blind eye to Putin's money
Four employees of Gazprombank Switzerland, including its managing director, appeared before a Swiss court on Wednesday in connection with their role in managing assets of Russian cellist Sergei Roldugin - a friend of Vladimir Putin who is suspected of having taken some of the Russian president's fortune abroad.
Large sums of around €30.2 million (30 million Swiss francs) were allegedly transferred from companies in the musician's name without Gazprombank's managers having carried out the necessary inspections.
The one-day trial in Zurich stemmed from information about secretive financial flows revealed in the Panama Papers leaks in 2016.
It took years for prosecutors to unravel the web of money and bring the case to court.
The trial opens a rare window into allegations that a member of Putin’s circle of friends helped funnel millions abroad and that European banks may have turned a blind eye despite international sanctions.
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Western nations have imposed sanctions against oligarchs and others with close ties to Putin's government, including Roldugin, both before and since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The US Treasury Department has described Roldugin as “part of a system that manages President Putin’s offshore wealth.”
The four bankers, three Russian-born and one Swiss-born, have denied wrongdoing. A verdict is expected on 30 March, according to Gazprombank Switzerland.