Swiss private bank Pictet raided in Petrobras-linked probe

ZURICH (Reuters) – Prosecutors searched the offices of Swiss private bank Pictet in mid-March in connection with a criminal probe into dealings with Brasilian state-run oil firm Petrobras, the bank confirmed following media reports on Wednesday.

“The (Office of the Attorney General) OAG confirms that in mid-March it carried out a search of a banking institution in Geneva. This search took place in the context of ongoing criminal proceedings, linked to the Petrobras investigation complex, which were opened in December 2021,” federal prosecutors said in an emailed statement.

Swiss newspaper Le Temps earlier on Wednesday reported on the raids.

A spokesperson for Pictet confirmed it was the bank in question.

“For Pictet, this inquiry relates to matters which primarily occurred more than a decade ago and as early as 2005,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Swiss prosecutors have been working for years to identify assets and bring forward prosecutions in relation to a sprawling international corruption case linked to Brazilian state oil firm Petrobras.

The so-called Car Wash probe, known in Portuguese as Lava Jato, began in 2014 with the arrest of a currency dealer and mushroomed into Brazil’s biggest ever graft scandal, mainly involving Petrobras contracts in which some 200 businessmen, officials and politicians have been convicted.

In October, Petrobras said it paid more than $850 million to U.S. authorities as part of an agreement on a related corruption probe.

Other banks, including JPMorgan, Brazil’s Banco do Brasil and Geneva-based Banque Cramer & Cie, have come into the crosshairs of related international probes.

Swiss financial market supervisor FINMA in 2018 also identified deficiencies at Credit Suisse in connection with the Petrobras affair.

Pictet on Wednesday said it had already discussed the matter with FINMA in 2014, following its own internal review, “and resolved it with the regulator in 2015.”

(Reporting by Oliver Hirt; writing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)