As Suisse Secrets scandal breaks, Labour’s election poster girl trumpets new role at Credit Suisse

Banking giant Credit Suisse held at least $8 billion in accounts of alleged launderers, tax dodgers and human rights abusers

 

In yet another seismic development in international finance and banking, a leak featuring data on over 18,000 non-Swiss clients of banking giant Credit Suisse revealed that the bank held at least $8 billion in assets and accounts identified as problematic by journalists who contributed to the cross-border investigation known as Suisse Secrets.

Credit Suisse has been repeatedly admonished for several failures related to money laundering and tax evasion for over two decades. In spite of the multiple scandals faced by the bank, Credit Suisse’s high-ranking executives have more often than not gotten away scot-free given that none of them were ever prosecuted and sent to prison.

As the articles revolving around the Suisse Secrets leak make their rounds across the world, a link between the Swiss bankers and Malta also emerges. Just a few days before Suisse Secrets hit the headlines, former Steward Healthcare vice president for corporate affairs and communications Alessandra Pace announced her new role as Credit Suisse’s assistant vice president for their private international banking services.

Some of the clients exposed by the Suisse Secrets files include Venezuelan officials who were accused of being involved in embezzlement and the subsequent economic collapse of the country which has seen millions displaced and an economy left devastated.

Other examples include the family of an Egyptian intelligence chief who oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects, an Italian accused of laundering money for the ‘Ndrangheta mafia and alleged human rights abusers like former Algerian defence minister Khaled Nezzar.

The leak of the Suisse Secrets files has also prompted a separate discussion on Switzerland’s notorious banking secrecy laws, which essentially criminalise whistleblowers and journalists who publish stories based on leaked information.

Journalists could face up to five years in prison, according to Swiss laws, with Swiss media outlets actively deciding to refrain from publishing information due to possible criminal consequences. Press freedom organisations such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) argued for the abolition of the laws, describing them as “an intolerable threat to freedom of information”.

Meanwhile, Alessandra Pace, who is known to have begun her career in the Labour party’s insider circles and had even posed as one of the faces for the party’s electoral campaign in 2013, publicly promoted her new role in a feature article just four days before the Swiss banking giant was embroiled in Suisse Secrets, an international investigation spearheaded by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Left: Alessandra Pace in Labour’s 2013 ‘Tagħna Lkoll’ campaign video. Right: Alessandra Pace at Credit Suisse.

In the feature article on Pace, there is no reference to Steward Healthcare, the concessionaires behind the corrupt deal which saw the privatisation of three of Malta’s hospitals, as one of her previous employers.

Pace was one of multiple officials who, before occupying a role at Steward Healthcare, also occupied a role at Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH), the original concessionaires to the €4 billion hospitals deal and the same company now being accused of fraudulence and corruption by Steward Healthcare in court.

In 2016, Daphne Caruana Galizia had first revealed Pace’s leap from government communications official to head of communications for VGH. Her appointment had raised eyebrows given Pace’s relatively young age and limited experience.

Prior to her spells at VGH and then Steward Healthcare, Pace had worked for former MEP Louis Grech for seven months, in Grech’s private secretariat for a year, and 17 months for an advertising agency also owned by Grech. She had also spent 15 months working as media coordinator for the CHOGM 2015 Taskforce, with one particularly disastrous interview to show for it.

The Shift’s founder and editor, Caroline Muscat, had interviewed CHOGM’s chairwoman Phyllis Muscat in 2015. At the time, next to nothing was known of the details of the event which saw over 50 heads of Commonwealth states gather in Malta. In the interview, the evidently ill-prepared chairwoman failed to answer basic questions about the budget allocated for the event, with Pace often intervening to suggest answers when needed.

                           
                               
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James
James
2 months ago

Yet more birds of the same feathers joining the flock it seems.

When will these people be charged for the roles they have played in facilitating the movement of billions in “ suspicious “ transactions when the credible evidence of links back to Malta is so clear.?

JOHN CASSAR
2 months ago

Eq , tirnexxi biss skond lil min taf fil-hajja

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