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(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG has banned its traders from buying or selling certain Venezuelan securities that critics of the South American nation’s government say help fund an authoritarian regime.
The Zurich-based bank is halting trading in two bonds issued by the state and its oil company, as well as any notes from a Venezuelan entity after June 1, according to an Aug. 7 company memo, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg. The lender is also restricting business with Venezuelan counterparties, including private individuals and companies. A Credit Suisse representative confirmed the memo’s contents.
The decision comes after the U.S. began imposing sanctions on some Venezuelan officials in response to the anti-democratic turn of President Nicolas Maduro, who installed a widely-criticized assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. Venezuelan lawmakers have been urging Wall Street banks not to throw Maduro a financial lifeline, and spearheaded a public shaming of Goldman Sachs Asset Management after it purchased some of the securities now prohibited by Credit Suisse.
“In light of the political climate and recent events in Venezuela, and actions taken by the current government, we want to ensure that Credit Suisse does not provide the means for anyone to violate the human rights of the Venezuelan people,” according to the memo.
The prohibited securities are government debt due in 2036, as well as 6 percent coupon bonds issued by Petroleos de Venezuela due in 2022.
In recent months, more than 100 people have died while participating in street demonstrations against the regime.
Financial deals with Venezuela have been under scrutiny since the investing arm of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bought almost $3 billion of the PDVSA 2022 bonds in May at a steep discount from the nation’s central bank, prompting calls by opposition leaders for U.S. regulators to investigate the money manager for engaging in corrupt practices.
The transaction spurred protests outside the bank’s offices in Manhattan, as well as an internal review by Goldman Sachs’s compliance and legal staff. Goldman has said that it bought the bonds for asset-management clients through a broker, and didn’t provide money directly to the government.
Credit Suisse has “no appetite for providing any funding to the Republic of Venezuela” directly or through third parties when it believes there’s intent to passing the funds on to the government, according to the memo.
The bank has banned any business with counterparties controlled by the Venezuelan government, as well as those in the private sector, unless they’ve been approved by Credit Suisse’s reputational risk office or are identified as a permissible activity. That includes market-making of Venezuelan bonds and credit derivatives, as well as the use of Venezuelan assets as collateral for financial transactions with non-Venezuelan institutions.
--With assistance from Noris Soto and Rita Devlin Marier
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