A Russian soft drink mogul who was bilked out of $35 million by an unscrupulous Swiss banker won a legal victory last month when a Manhattan federal judge allowed the case against the bank to go forward.
Olga Kurbatova, a millionaire Muscovite, was granted a rare application to gather evidence from a Swiss criminal investigation to bolster her case that the bank, Credit Suisse, currently run by Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam, knew about a decade-long, $150 million fraud that ripped off a half-dozen wealthy Russian clients, according to a Jan. 22 court order.
“I’m very happy that finally we can get some peace from this information that might be very useful for us,” Kurbatova, whose company distributes soda throughout Russia, told The Post.
The order gives Kurbatova documents from two investment vehicles she claims were inappropriate, and she told The Post she believes they will help show that Credit Suisse knew about the fraud.
The order by Judge Ronnie Abrams is the latest development in the years-long saga of Patrice Lescaudron, a cosmetics salesman turned star Credit Suisse banker who was exposed as a fraud after he lost giant sums of clients’ money through bad investments, and then tried to cover it up by transferring funds between clients’ accounts.
Lescaudron was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to five years in prison in Switzerland in 2018 but is already free, according to people familiar with his case.
The banker, who worked in Credit Suisse’s Moscow office, reportedly used the proceeds from his fraud to finance a lifestyle of Ferraris, Rolex watches, luxury real estate and even a Picasso lithograph.
Kurbatova claims that Lescaudron put her in risky investments, made up fake balance statements and forged her signature on documents from 2006 to about 2016, when he was caught, according to court documents.
But the businesswoman is planning to sue the bank because Credit Suisse froze her account and hasn’t given her back any of the money that Lescaudron lost, she said.
Kurbatova claims other people at the bank must have known, or should have known, that Lescaudron was falsifying documents. “It’s not really easy to fight against such a big machine, a big bank,” she said. “The bank will not apologize and return the money.”
The order gives Kurbatova access to documents from Lyxor Asset Management and Elliot Daniloff, a New York hedge fund manager, according to the suit. Representatives for Lyxor and Daniloff didn’t return requests for comment.
A similar suit in Miami is seeking documents directly from Credit Suisse. The bank didn’t return a request for comment.