Ex-Credit Suisse Banker Freed Months After Fraud Conviction

(Bloomberg) -- A former Credit Suisse Group AG wealth manager was freed less than 10 months after he was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence for operating a fraud scheme that resulted in damages of more than $140 million.

Patrice Lescaudron was released Nov. 30 following a request to a Geneva appeals court, according to a Justice Ministry spokesman. The 55-year-old, who had spent about two years in pre-trial detention, was no longer seen as a flight risk, the court ruled.

News of Lescaudron’s release comes days before a Geneva court hears appeals in the case, which raised awkward questions about how Credit Suisse oversees wealth managers. Lescaudron was convicted of perpetrating an eight-year scheme in which he admitted to making unauthorized trades and faking purchase orders in a bid to reverse deepening client losses.

Credit Suisse has said that the former star manager was a lone wolf who hid his conduct from colleagues and supervisors.

Lescaudron’s lawyer, Simon Ntah, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment. A spokeswoman for Credit Suisse didn’t have any immediate comment.

Ntah had argued in his closing arguments that Lescaudron’s pre-trial detention, the stress of the case and the financial difficulty his client now found himself in was sufficient punishment.

Lescaudron came late to banking, having worked for cosmetics maker Yves Rocher and then in luxury goods before joining Credit Suisse. With his knowledge of Russia, he was soon responsible for handling a group of eastern European clients that eventually grew to include Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. By about 2008, Lescaudron was managing at least $1.6 billion worth of customer assets.

The Frenchman, who isn’t subject to bracelet monitoring as a condition of his release, is now free to try to rebuild his life outside of finance. He said during the trial that the high-stress role and demands from his clients took its toll on his health.

“When I left the house in the morning and locked the door, I told myself that day I will either be arrested or I will end up in hospital,” he said.

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