What happens when a friend of the top Swiss criminal tracker device is suddenly on the Radar of the authority? This question arises especially now that the is again at risk choice of a Federal Prosecutor Michael Lauber through a disciplinary investigation as a result of the Fifa affair. But that's not enough: The delicate matter relates to one of the largest cases, the Federal advocacy are currently treated. And in the case of Lauber friend, it is a politically exposed Person, a so-called PEP.
The PEP is René Brülhart. The 46-Year-old is the poster boy for the money laundering, Nickname in the media: "the James Bond of the financial world". The native of Fribourg is Chairman of the financial supervision in the Vatican and is well connected. From 2010 to 2012 he was Vice-Chairman of the Egmont group, the merger of the national Anti-money laundering authorities.
Brülhart and Lauber met almost 20 years ago, when they were building together, the money laundering reporting office in Liechtenstein. Since then, they are friends. "They meet in irregular intervals in private," confirmed a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.
Now Brülharts Name appears in the large procedures of the Federal Prosecutor's office about the missing billion of the Malaysian state Fund 1MDB. The test is suspected: To him, the money laundering-fighter, could be flowed dirty money. In a statement, Brülhart refuses to tolerate "any speculation about the participation of me or one of my companies in the 1MDB case, or for any other improper or even criminal activities".
2.5 million Swiss francs for the two Brülhart-company
the Familiar Lauber is on the Radar of the office of the attorney General, was not so: René Brülhart is just a Financial overseer in the Vatican, but at the same time in a different, at least as secretive industry: the procurement of information. Something expressed in terms of tips, he works as a freelance intelligence agent. Money laundering-fighters stood by while a client, the Laundry bar in the 1MDB scandal, corruption, serious money, and Another accused.
For his activities Brülhart leads his own company, the RnB AG in Zurich. In addition, he is Chairman of the Board and responsible for a third of the Swiss branch of the global TD International, their proximity to American intelligence circles is known. Payments to these two companies are the reason why Brülhart is now in Federal issue advocacy.
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The payments came from one side, the scandal is in the 1MDB-Central: of the Oil company Petro-Audi and their co-founder Tarek Obaid. The Swiss-Saudi dual citizens with long excellent relations to the Royal house of Saud is said to have helped up to 1.8 billion dollars in 1MDB funds to divert. Obaid via denies behavior of his Geneva lawyer, any false. The presumption of innocence applies.
In the fall of 2015 it was reported that the Federal government determined advocacy in the case of 1MDB. Just in this time, Obaids Petro Audi secured the services of the TD International Brülhart and its business partners. In the two following years payments were made, which constitute a money laundering suspicion: in 2016 and 2017, transferred to Petro-Audi-a total of around 2.5 million francs to the TD International. In 2017, a payment of Petro-Audi-Director Tarek Obaid to René Brülharts RnB AG of approximately 50'000 Swiss francs.
Lauber learned, allegedly, four months is nothing
What is the a lot of money? In the bills that could see the Tamedia-Recherchedesk, the described benefits of the TD International for Petro-Audi simply with "Professional Services". This leaves a lot of room for interpretation. However, neither Brülhart still Obaid want to comment on the purpose of the payments. Brülhart writes: "In all the mandates, I place high demands on the integrity and confidentiality of my work. Can't any business relations with potential clients (...) I Express my opinion."
The Swiss Bank, in the case of the 2.5 million franc Petro Audi for the two Brülhart-arrived company, wanted to clarify the background to the payments. Apparently, they got no satisfactory explanation. Therefore, it came to the money laundering reporting office. From there, a suspicion message was received in September 2018 at the office of the attorney General, as their spokesman explained. The U.S. attorney's office have blocked the "corresponding assets promptly".
bruelhart stressed that neither he nor the companies mentioned were advocacy in proceedings in the Federal or in other criminal proceedings accused. He points out that "the criminal authorities met in studies of economic processes often accounts of uninvolved third persons seizures, which have nothing to do with the allegations under inquiry."
Video: Lauber brings to the counter-attack from "This is just absurd," Michael Lauber, the press conference in Bern. Video: Keystone
However, it is also rather rare, that in the case of firms in a state money laundering-Fighter money is frozen. And even rarer that it is a Confidant of the heads of the fitting authority. Therefore, the question arises: What are the law enforcers of the Federal government, in addition, if a friend of the attorney to appear in such a delicate context? And in a key dossier.
According to the office of the attorney General occurred after the asset blocking – nothing. In the representation of the authority it took about four months, until it was realized internally, the explosive nature of the Suspicion. Only in January 2019 were informed "in the course of further processing" and "due to the official function of René Brülhart in the area of money laundering-combating the" internal Controlling and business management, writes the spokesperson. Thus, even a Federal Prosecutor Lauber. How it went since then, with the examination of the suspect message, is not known.
And one more question is: would the Oil company Petro-Audi thanks to TD International, and Brülhart a direct access to the Federal Prosecutor? According to the newspaper "Le Temps" ran in the spring of 2018, negotiations on a Deal between the office of the attorney General and Petro-Audi. Such agreements are for Accused persons in criminal proceedings, often elegant solutions, since you have a court hearing will greatly shorten the sentences are pre-negotiated.
Brülhart arranged Meeting with Swiss secret service
it Was such a Deal that not occurred so far, the theme at the occasional meetings of the Federal Prosecutor, with his old Familiar? The spokesperson of the Federal government denies lawyers: In the private exchange "does not comment on the Federal Prosecutor to criminal proceedings". Also, there have been no Meetings Lauber Obaid: "Federal Prosecutor Michael Lauber has not met with the boards of Petro-Audi, who are Accused in the framework of the case of 1MDB, the BA, or other Petro-Audi representatives, or their legal representatives."
That Tarek Obaid wants to be close to the Swiss authorities, is not far-fetched. "Le Temps" also revealed that Obaid had made prior to the end of 2017, over the months, with agents of the Federal intelligence service (NDB). The Western Swiss newspaper asked whether he sought this contact, "because it was necessary to win the good will of the Federal authorities".
Brülhart writes, he was free to advise in addition to his Pontifical mandate "to other clients, provided there is no conflict of interest exists".
Additional research shows: At a Meeting between Obaid and Deputy NDB-Director Paul Zinniker at the airport of Zurich René was Brülhart. The man from the Vatican was, had arranged the secret meeting. The NDB took neither position, such as Brülhart.
For the state of the Church, there seems to be no Problem, that will be the top-money laundering fighters supported part-time as a money laundering Suspect. Tommaso Di Ruzza, the Director of the Vatican financial oversight, writes that his Agency don't comment on "speculation" of what "alleged" mandates of its President. Brülhart was not operational for the authority and fulfill its mandate "with a high degree of professionalism and integrity".
Brülhart writes, he was free to advise in addition to his Pontifical mandate "to other clients, provided there is no conflict of interest exists". "Without the highest demands on the compliance with legal regulations and ethical Standards," continues the "James Bond of the financial world", "it would be impossible for me, full of responsibility and mandates, such as the Bureau of the financial Supervisory authority of the Vatican credible."
staff: Catherine Boss, and Oliver Zihlmann
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Created: 12.05.2019, 07:18 PM