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Swiss Banker Really Embraced Russian Mindset

In other circumstances, Patrice Lescaudron would have made a great Kremlin functionary.
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Patrice Lescaudron once worked for Credit Suisse, managing money for the oligarchs of the former Soviet Union. He didn’t manage it especially well. There was the 120 million francs he dumped into three Swiss hedge funds that in turn dumped basically all of it into a single pharmaceutical company whose stock cratered. And the Australian real-estate operation that lost more than half of its value.

What Lescaudron did do reasonably well for a period of time was to, Lebowski-like, play all sides while keeping his relations between them secret from the others. This is how he wound up cashing three paychecks at the same time: There was his salary from Credit Suisse, the commissions he got from the hedge funds—which his client, former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili—knew nothing about, and the $1.5 million in “bonuses” from Ivanishvili, unknown to Credit Suisse.

Now, after two years in prison, Lescaudron’s on trial in Geneva. Understandably, everyone wants him to explain himself: the Swiss prosecutors, Credit Suisse’s lawyers, the judge. One answer is fairly prosaic, if now somewhat comical: Lescaudron didn’t want to go to jail. The other is a bit more interesting: Surrounded by all of those Georgian and Russian billions, he went a bit native.

“You could have refused the bonus or accepted it and reported it to Credit Suisse, but you did neither,” said Jeanneret. “Why?”…

“You also have to go into the Russian psyche and that of the former Soviet Union and the idea of generosity where managers accept gifts,” said Lescaudron. “They offered me things that I refused, but this I accepted.”

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