Switzerland’s highest-profile corporate crimes trial in decades has provided plenty of lowbrow entertainment. It’s to the point we’re already willing to label it the most fascinating legal proceedings of 2022, despite the fact we’re only just approaching the tail end of January. Who exactly do we have to thank for all the tabloid headlines and pub chat fodder? Former banking CEO Pierin Vincenz of Raiffeisen Switzerland, of course – who’s currently standing trial for (illegally) making it rain at “a string of cabarets, strip clubs, and contact bars” with 201,267 Swiss francs / AU$309,000 worth of company expenses. Among other things.
Granted, the bulk of charges Vincenz is facing involves allegations of illegal trades, enrichment, fraud, and mismanagement which occurred while he was serving as Raiffeisen’s top dog; indiscretions that rightly deserve ample mainstream attention, given how financial crimes have historically resulted in a disturbing lack of justice. But like the gossip-hungry cockroaches we are, the story that’s captivated the lion’s share of our collective attention involves a one-time Banker of the Year abusing his corporate expense account.
Here are some notable ways our 65-year-old Zucker Dädi has misappropriated Raiffeisen Switzerland funds (outside of the six-figure strip club spend):
- 700 Swiss francs / AU$1,068 on dinner with a Tinder date he was apparently “considering for a real estate job”
- 4,000 / AU$6,105 Swiss francs to repair a hotel room at the five-star Zurich Park Hyatt, damaged during a “massive row” between Vincenze and the stripper he was dating at the time
- 27,000 Swiss francs / AU$41,200 for a private jet during a cooking club trip to Mallorca
- An entire trip to Australia for the purposes of “examining the country’s ATMs”
- 250,000 Swiss francs / AU$382,000 for miscellaneous travel costs (flights, accomodation, meals with family + friends)
“With regard to [visits] to bars and nightclubs, I fully stand by that these were justified by business,” Pierin Vincenz tells the Swiss court.
“There are individual invoices that appeared on the tab with regard to business trips, which [should have been] private, but on the whole, these were justified by my business activity.”
According to Reuters, while many of these lapdance appointments behind the velvet curtain had apparently followed legitimate business dinners or associated events, many others were made “spontaneously on his own in the interest of meeting entrepreneurs and business managers.” Vincenz had apparently been tasked by Raiffeisen Switzerland with “developing the bank’s presence and public profile,” and strip clubs are certainly one avenue of achieving such an objective.
“Do I understand your claim correctly that, when you went alone to a cabaret, there were invariably business people present and every invitation was made in Raifeissen’s business interest?” one judge asked.
“I didn’t have the feeling I had done anything criminal here,” Vincenz responded in his last statement before the court hearing adjourned on Tuesday.
As for the matter of the actual case at hand, prosecutors are currently seeking close to 70 million Swiss francs / AU$107 million in assets from the seven defendants – including Pierin Vincenz – in addition to pursuing financial penalties and prison sentences, ranging from two to six years for all but one said defendants.