Local fiduciary agent given partially conditional 36-month sentence

The supreme court in Zurich has upheld the ruling of a previous hearing in which a 55-year-old fiduciary agent from Zug was handed a partially conditional sentence of 36 months on account of his involvement in engaging in fraudulent activity among other offences. The courts also upheld the previous verdict which banned him from practising his profession for four years.

For his part, the agent’s counsel for defence had attempted to ensure a lesser sentence for his client, namely a conditional fine amounting to 180 times his daily pay for multiple counts of falsification of documents, embezzlement and false accusation, without his client being banned. However, in this appeal hearing, the client was cleared of charges of money laundering.

It was heard in court that the notary public had been helping a German fraudster in investing money for him. It appears this German national presented himself as a worldly billionaire and a scion of the Trapp dynasty, very successful in trading in risk-free, high-yield trading activity and taking on the Swiss fiduciary agent as his financial intermediary, or paymaster, as the latter put it, involving sums of several millions of francs between the summer of 2009 and the autumn of 2010. However, it appears these funds were never really invested but paid out to other clients for their private use in a so-called snowball system, the clients duped by the German with statements which falsely indicated profits.

Court proceedings against the fiduciary agent, relating to funds amounting to CHF 14 million, were opened in 2012, with the German sentenced to a five-year-ten-month prison sentence by a court in Bochum in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

The Zug-based notary public had acted for the German as a member of the board of a financial company specially set up for the purpose. He mentioned how, like the investors, he had initially been totally taken in by the German, only in October 2010 realising that something was amiss.

It was mentioned how the supreme court could not categorically state that the Swiss agent had not disbelieved the German at the outset and was not taken in by him and his personality. However, it was clear he had gone along with the fraudulent activity and not distanced himself from it, even when he had begun to suspect it, While the court ruled out the Swiss man was directly complicit, it ruled he was possibly complicit. As mentioned, in this appeal hearing, he was cleared of charges of money laundering. He is also having to pay CHF 375,000 to the Swiss state for having benefited from pecuniary advantage. While, as mentioned, the 36-month sentence is partially conditional, he will have to spend at least 12 months behind bars.

Of note is that the verdict is not legally binding and that the matter is to be referred to the Swiss Federal Court.          

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