A lawyer who pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy and testified for U.S. prosecutors in a bribery case was reappointed to the board of a Swiss bank that the government said he used in the criminal scheme.
Hyposwiss Private Bank Zurich announced Hans Bodmer’s appointment in a June 6 press release that didn’t mention his 2004 guilty plea in Manhattan federal court or his testimony at the 2009 bribery trial. The Zurich-based wealth manager also named Adolf Real, chairman of the Liechtenstein Bankers Association, to its board.
“Hans Bodmer and Adolf E. Real both have years of management experience in private banking as well as in its regulatory environment,” Roland Ledergerber, chairman of Hyposwiss, said in the release. “With these two new members, I am convinced that we are in a good position to continue our controlling and management tasks efficiently and effectively.”
Marisa De Faveri Schweizer, head of communications at Hyposwiss, didn’t have an immediate comment. Hyposwiss Private Bank Zurich and its Geneva-based affiliate are part of Hyposwiss Private Bank Ltd., a unit of St. Galler Kantonalbank AG, a regional bank based in St. Gallen, Switzerland.
“Mr. Bodmer’s case, dating back nearly 10 years, did not involve any violations of Swiss law,” Bodmer’s lawyer, Saul Pilchen of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP in Washington, said in a statement today. “The appointment by Hyposwiss shows the bank’s well-placed confidence in his integrity as well as his business judgment.”
At the 2009 bribery trial of Frederic Bourke, the co-founder of handbag maker Dooney & Bourke, Bodmer was one of two prosecution witnesses to testify that they told Bourke about bribes paid to government leaders in Azerbaijan as part of a 1998 bid to win control of the state oil company. Bourke was part of a group of investors led by Czech expatriate Viktor Kozeny and his company, Oily Rock Group Ltd.
According to the U.S. indictment in the case, Bodmer used “his position as a member of the board of directors of Hyposwiss Bank” to route payments from Kozeny to government officials in Azerbaijan. At the trial, Bodmer testified about how he used Swiss accounts as part of the scheme.
Bourke was convicted of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. anti-bribery law, and sentenced to a year in prison. He is appealing. Bodmer, who is seeking leniency in return for his testimony, has yet to be sentenced, and his case is pending in Manhattan.
Hyposwiss, which has been in business for 120 years, has 11.4 billion Swiss francs ($13.7 billion) in assets under management and employs more than 200 people, according to its press release.
In a March court filing, lawyers for Bourke asked for a new trial because they say prosecutors knew Bodmer lied when testifying about a meeting with Bourke that was key to the U.S. case. Prosecutors deny the claim and say jurors were able to weigh inconsistencies in Bodmer’s testimony. A New York judge is weighing the request.
“Mr. Bodmer is awaiting sentencing, and therefore one would wish to know what information the bank had when it made this appointment,” Bourke’s lawyer, Michael Tigar, said in an interview today. “One would also wish to know what if any information Mr. Bodmer obtained from the government to help know whether he’d be able to fulfill the responsibilities of this position.”
Carly Sullivan, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York, whose office prosecuted the Bourke case, declined to comment.
Bodmer was indicted in 2003 and arrested in South Korea on a U.S. warrant. He pleaded guilty after being extradited to the U.S. and spending months in prison. U.S. prosecutors allowed him to return to his native Switzerland, where he now practices law at the Zurich-based firm BodmerFischer Ltd.
U.S. prosecutors have been trying to extradite Kozeny from the Bahamas, where he lives, since charging him with bribery in 2005. The U.K.-based Privy Council, the final appeals court for some Commonwealth nations, has agreed to review the refusal of Bahamian courts to extradite him.
The case is U.S. v. Bourke, 05-cr-00518, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).