Credit Suisse on Monday shared further information regarding its exposure to the collapse of U.K. supply chain finance startup Greensill Capital in March 2021 and how the bank was caught off guard.
With approximately $10 billion tied up between four supply chain finance funds, Credit Suisse was one of the banks most affected by the downfall of Greensill, which occurred the same month U.S. hedge fund Archegos Capital Management went under. Credit Suisse lost approximately $5.5 billion in the Archegos collapse; an independent report into the matter ordered by the bank concluded a series of missteps by its risk and compliance function failed to escalate numerous red flags.
Regarding Greensill, Credit Suisse acknowledged Monday in response to questions from the Swiss-based Ethos Foundation that “individual managers and employees could have averted the reputational damage and economic failure if they had conducted themselves in prior years more appropriately.” However, the bank also defended its due diligence efforts, saying there were “no earlier indications” from Greensill or its founder, Lex Greensill, that it would collapse prior to the expiration of its credit insurance.
Lara Warner, then-chief risk and compliance officer at Credit Suisse, was informed by Greensill on Feb. 22, 2021, that its insurance would expire six days later, according to the bank. Warner told the executive board, which then informed the bank’s board of directors.
“The chief risk officer and the executive board of [Credit Suisse] were extremely surprised that Lex Greensill informed them of this fact only a few days before the expiration of the insurance,” the bank said. “Anyone would have expected an earlier orientation when such a problem arose. Lex Greensill explained this by stating that, due to what Greensill claimed was a missed insurance deadline, he had assumed that the insurance policy would not expire at the end of February 2021. This explanation could not be verified by [Credit Suisse].”
Questioned why the bank was unaware Greensill had difficulty finding a new auditor in October 2020, Credit Suisse said Warner and the executive board “had not been informed” of the issue. Negative media reports regarding Greensill in 2019 and 2020 prompted Credit Suisse to seek answers, but Greensill “was able to provide satisfactory explanations” in each case and no further action was taken, the bank said.
An internal investigation report into the Greensill matter has not yet been published as the bank still seeks to recover funds for investors. It said it expects to pursue litigation and that its efforts might take around five years.
In the aftermath of the collapses of Greensill and Archegos, Warner stepped down in April 2021, and the bank separated its compliance and risk functions. Credit Suisse has further overhauled its board’s composition regarding risk management and announced it would restructure its asset management arm and exit prime services, the division of its investment bank most notably linked to its risk and compliance deficiencies.
In total, Credit Suisse said it terminated 10 employees linked to its Greensill failings. Further disciplinary measures included compensation clawbacks totaling $43 million.
Credit Suisse in its document published Monday also acknowledged February’s “Suisse Secrets” report, in which a consortium of journalists parsed through leaked records at the bank and exposed dozens of accounts belonging to corrupt politicians, criminals, spies, dictators, and other dubious characters. The bank said 90 percent of the accounts detailed were closed or in the process of being closed at the time of the report and that no new information has yet to raise alarm.
“We are comfortable that based on the results of our preliminary investigation to date there are no new concerns which have been identified and actions taken were in line with applicable processes and requirements at the relevant time and in accordance with our legal and regulatory obligations,” the bank said.