Even trials of the most depraved and unusual crimes would have a hard time competing with the actually entertaining things which usually grace the stage of the Volkshaus theater in Zürich. Even in a place like Zürich, there are more interesting things to see and do than sit through the procedural mundanity that is any court proceeding. And so it was quite a risk to move the trial of former Raiffeisen CEO Pierin Vincenz and his impeccably-named alleged co-conspirator, Beat Stocker, to that venue, especially given that the primary crimes alleged are of the double-dealing business variety.
Happily, however, the trial has more than lived up to its surroundings.
Those expenses, prosecutors say, include nearly 200,000 Swiss francs, or more than $216,000, he spent at “cabarets, strip clubs and contact bars” as part of what the authorities have described as a “Tour de Suisse” through Switzerland’s red light districts. Mr. Vincenz said these were necessary expenses to meet potential clients and business associates.
Other billings include 700 francs (about $750) for a night out with a woman Mr. Vincenz met on the dating app Tinder (he told the court that he had been interviewing her for a job), as well as almost 4,000 francs (about $4,000) for the refurbishment of a room at the Hyatt in Zurich that was damaged during a fracas between Mr. Vincenz and a strip club worker.
Although Mr. Vincenz conceded that some invoices had been mistakenly charged to the company, he said that on the whole his expenses were justified by his business activity. “I don’t have the feeling I have done anything criminal here,” he told the court.
That is probably true, because elsewhere, the trial has shown Vincenz—whose reputation before all of this was, amazingly, as Switzerland’s “down-to-earth banker”—to be not entirely in accord with reality. Vincenz and Stocker are accused of buying up controlling stakes in companies and then having Raiffeisen or Stocker’s company buy them, earning themselves some 25 million over the years. Once again, Vincenz testified that he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong thereby.
“That was 15 years ago — I was young and had no experience,” Mr. Vincenz told the court.
Pierin Vincenz was 50 years old at the time, and had been CEO of Raiffiesen for eight years.
The show continues through March.
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