Credit Suisse Designed Debt for Espirito Santo Group, WSJ Says

Credit Suisse Group AG designed securities that were used to finance Espirito Santo companies and sold to clients of Banco Espirito Santo SA, the Portuguese lender that was bailed out this month, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

The securities contained debt issued by various companies linked to the Espirito Santo family and were used to finance the family’s business interests, the paper said, citing filings and unidentified people familiar with a probe into the bank.

The securities were sold by vehicles controlled at least in part by Eurofin Holding SA, the newspaper said. Eurofin, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, was partly owned by Espirito Santo until 2009 and played a key role in the group’s financings, according to the newspaper.

Banco Espirito Santo, once Portugal’s biggest lender by market value, was broken up in a bailout by the Portuguese government, leaving junior creditors with the bank’s bad assets. The bank was rescued after it disclosed potential losses on loans to other group companies and regulators ordered the lender to raise more capital.

It’s unclear what role Credit Suisse had in selling the securities to bank customers, according to the newspaper. Vanessa Neill, a London-based spokeswoman for Credit Suisse, declined to comment on the report.

“Eurofin denies vigorously any allegations that it could have been involved in setting-up, structuring, managing or controlling any Credit Suisse financial products potentially involved with the collapse of the Espirito Santo Group and Banco Espirito Santo,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Eurofin would neither have acted as investment manager, adviser, or placing agent of these Credit Suisse financial products,” the company said.

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