Swiss court convicts four bankers of cellist money from Putin

Four bankers from the Swiss branch of a Russian bank have been found guilty by a Zurich court.

The accounts in Gazprombank’s Swiss branch were managed by Sergei Roldugin, the artistic director of the St. Petersburg Music House, who is often referred to as Putin’s cellist.

Roldugin has been friends with Putin for more than four decades and is the godfather of one of the Russian leader’s daughters.

The four men were found guilty of “lack of care in financial transactions” because of the millions of Swiss francs that flowed through Roldugin’s account, the Zurich District Court said in its judgment delivered to the media on Thursday.

Under Swiss law, the bankers – two Russians, one Swiss and one Russian-born Briton – cannot be identified.

The manager of the bank branch was fined 540,000 Swiss francs ($590,200).

Two other managers were fined CHF 90,000 and CHF 63,000 and one customer advisor was fined CHF 48,000.

However, the sentences have been suspended for two years, meaning the four will not have to pay the fines unless they re-offend within that time.

The court confirmed that the four men had exercised their right to appeal the verdict.

Swiss law requires banks to apply stricter rules to transactions made by persons who hold high public positions abroad or who are considered to be close to power due to family, personal or business ties.

The Zurich cantonal prosecutor accused Gazprombank of not having taken the necessary precautions to ensure that Roldugin was the rightful beneficiary of the sums entrusted to the bank between 2014 and 2016.

The cellist and conductor was sanctioned by the European Union in the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, with European authorities saying he was “part of Putin’s hidden financial network”.

And in June, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions and said he was a key figure in managing Putin’s personal fortune abroad.

Gazprombank is the financial arm of Russian natural gas giant Gazprom. The Swiss branch mainly focused on products and services for the financing of international commercial transactions.

It was banned from the Swiss banking sector after the invasion of Ukraine, but is still in the process of liquidating its operations in the Alpine country.


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