Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Why Credit Suisse Isn't Paying Ex-Executive Her $10 Million Fee

  • Bank says Yana Alexandroff was classed as government official
  • Alexandroff says she wasn’t paid finder’s fee for her work

Credit Suisse Group AG refused to pay a finder’s fee to a former employee for bringing in new business because the bank said it discovered that she was classified as a Russian government official.

Yana Alexandroff is suing for more than $10 million, saying the decision not to pay her was “capricious, wrongful and unjust.” She says Credit Suisse was wrong to label her a government official.

Alexandroff says she introduced Credit Suisse to Tatfondbank PJSC, where she was a non-executive director, when the Tatarstan bank needed help with a debt restructuring in 2009 -- a transaction that Credit Suisse ended up working on. She says she should have been paid for the introduction and for helping to facilitate the deal. 

But the bank says in its court filings that when its due diligence checks revealed her non-executive director role, it couldn’t pay her because Tatfondbank was part-owned by the Russian government. That meant she was “classified as a government official” under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977, Credit Suisse said, and would’ve made it illegal to pay her a fee.

Alexandroff says her role didn’t make her a government official under the act. She says Tatfondbank isn’t a department or agency of a foreign government and isn’t controlled by the government. It’s 34.378 percent owned by the Republic of Tatarstan, she says.

A spokeswoman for Credit Suisse, where she worked on the bond team from 1997 until 2003, declined to comment, as did Alexandroff’s attorney.

Husband’s Approach

Alexandroff says in her court filings that she had told the Swiss lender that she was a non-executive director of Tatfondbank. She says her husband Robin Wilson -- who according to the bank’s submission was a managing director in Credit Suisse’s investment banking division -- had also mentioned her post when he “made an initial approach to Credit Suisse on her behalf” about the deal.

Alexandroff says the bank also should have paid her for helping to set up a transaction involving the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic and Turcas Petrokimya. But the bank says Fawzi Kyriakos-Saad, Credit Suisse International’s chief executive officer between 2010 to 2012, decided not to approve her in that role. 

This was partly because of her failure to disclose her non-executive directorship of Tatfondbank, Credit Suisse says, and partly because she had claimed to be an approved introducing broker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., but Goldman’s compliance department said they had no record of her. Alexandroff’s papers say “anything to do with Goldman Sachs was entirely irrelevant.”

The case is Yana Alexandroff v. Credit Suisse International, High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Case No. CL-2017-000087

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