Pierin Vincenz will leave the Zurich Volkshaus in spring 2022 after day eight of the negotiations.
Thomas SchlittlerBusiness editor Sunday view
Three years and nine months in prison – absolutely. This was the verdict of the Zurich district court for the former Raiffeisen boss Pierin Vincenz (66) in mid-April 2022. His longtime business partner Beat Stocker (62), formerly CEO of the credit card company Aduno, even received a four-year prison sentence, also without probation.
District Judge Sebastian Aeppli (64) and his colleagues delivered the written justification for the sentence this week. The 1200-page work shows that the most serious violations of the law were committed when the SME investment company Investnet was bought. The court justified more than half of Vincenz and Stocker’s prison sentence with the case, which got the economic process of the decade rolling at the time.
It all started with a payment of CHF 2.9 million, which Stocker transferred to Vincenz’s account at Raiffeisenbank Lugano on July 3, 2015. A few months later, Lukas Hässig got wind of the transaction – and it seemed highly suspicious to the owner of the finance portal “Inside Paradeplatz”: Hässig knew that Raiffeisen, headed by Vincenz, had bought into Investnet just a few weeks before the transfer and that Stocker had signed this deal had threaded.
“There is no connection”
Was the 2.9 million franc transfer part of this deal? Was the Raiffeisen boss secretly involved in Investnet – the company that he later took over with the cooperative bank? Hässig asked Vincenz: “Is there a connection?”
The top banker vehemently denied: “There is no connection. This question alone is a scandal. Mr. Stocker gave me a private loan to buy a house.»
On April 7, 2016, Hässig made the “explosive payment” public, ensuring that other media, the companies concerned, the Financial Market Authority (Finma) and law enforcement authorities began to take an interest in what was happening.
Money used to buy stocks
Vincenz and Stocker always maintained that the 2.9 million was a loan, even before the district court – which, however, did not believe the accused. In the verdict, the “loan scenario” is dismissed as an “advanced construct”. The court recognized that Vincenz used part of the money, around two million francs, to buy a property in Ticino. However, it pointed out that “by far not the entire sum of money” was used for the property purchase. Rather, the funds were also used for other purchases, such as share purchases.
The judges pick apart the arguments of the ex-Raiffeisen boss: “If the accused Vincenz states in this regard that the funds were also obtained for a possible renovation of the property, there are no convincing indications for this version, especially since even an extensive renovation is hardly round would have cost CHF 1 million and such a renovation was never planned after receiving the money, let alone carried out, as the accused had to admit at the main hearing. »
As “strong indication of a sub-participation”, the verdict also refers to a wiretapped telephone call from February 21, 2018. In this, Stocker indicated several times that the income from the Investnet sale was not only due to him, but also to Vincenz.
The wording of the conversation: “In tranche 1 we received 5.9 million (…), of which 2.9 million went to you from tranche 1 … the famous ones … plus 0.8 those are them various loans plus bills from Peter (…) on a fifty-fifty basis you benefit more. The following model would now be ideal in our internal relationship. (…) If we were to find such a solution with 7.5 million loans from my tranche 3, then on the one hand we would have created equality among us and on the other hand we would have the disposition for future cash flows if they are necessary. »
Beat Stocker and Pierin Vincenz had a fateful phone call on February 21, 2018, which was tapped by the investigating authorities.
According to the court, the phone call shows how Stocker was looking for ways to give Vincenz half of the money that had flowed and will flow to him in a roundabout way. Direct transfers were no longer possible because of the ongoing Finma process.
The conversation was not even recorded by a hair’s breadth. In the first attempt, the public prosecutor’s office was denied permission to monitor Vincenz and Stocker’s telephones. As can be seen from the judgment, the so-called “Action Armstrong” was rejected by the Higher Court of the Canton of Zurich by order of January 30, 2018. Only when the public prosecutor’s office filed another application for surveillance a week later did the Supreme Court give the green light on February 12. Less than ten days later, the investigators recorded the fateful conversation.
Success with the second request
The files do not conclusively explain why the High Court initially did not want to authorize the wiretapping operation, but the suspicion does arise that the first application related to facts that were very long ago and the court therefore assumed that surveillance would hardly be possible would lead to additional evidence.
The public prosecutor then justified the second application for surveillance with the Investnet transaction – and was successful.
In a few months, the Vincenz case is likely to come before the Zurich High Court again. All parties have already announced that they will appeal the district court’s decision at the next instance. The results of the wiretapping operation are likely to become an issue again.
The defense environment complained that the district court hardly or not at all assessed exculpatory material collected during the telephone surveillance.