Look, we’ve all tripped and accidentally fallen into a strip club before, but at least that lie only gets you in trouble with the missus. Spare a thought for Pierin Vincenz, the former head of the bank Raiffeisen Switzerland whose trips to the gentleman’s lounge have landed him in seriously hot water with authorities. The Swiss banker has been charged with making millions of dollars through fraudulent deals, but while his alleged crimes are noteworthy, it was his defence that caught everyone off-guard. On Tuesday, Vincenz told a Zurich court that a near 200,000 Swiss francs (AUD$300,000) expenses bill for strip club visits was largely ‘business-related’. Genius.
According to Reuters, the 65-year-old former Banker of the Year went on to explain that his many outings, while personal by nature, were in fact, business expenses. Take, for instance, the 700 franc dinner Vincenz had with a Tinder date, which he justified as a business meeting because he was “considering her for a real estate job”, or perhaps to the luxurious trip to Australia where he was reportedly examining the country’s ATMs. Even more impressive was the nearly 27,000 francs for a private jet during a cooking club trip to Mallorca or the almost 4,000 francs spent on repairing a hotel room that was damaged during a “massive row” between Vincenz and a strip club dancer he was dating at the time.
It’s a simple rouse and one that you’d expect a man of Vincenz’s stature to avoid like the plague, but alas, it appears the banker got a taste of the high life that he just couldn’t quit. According to reports, most of the charges relate to allegations of illegal trades, that occurred primarily while he was chief executive of unlisted cooperative lender Raiffeisen Switzerland (RFSHW.UL). The banker vehemently denies the allegations, however, did concede that some charges may have been expenses by mistake. The trips to the strip club, however, all business.
“With regard to (visits) to bars and nightclubs, I fully stand by that these were justified by business,” Vincenz said, via Reuters. “There are individual invoices that appeared on the tab with regard to business trips, which (should have been) private, but on the whole, these were justified by my business activity.”
Naturally, the officials weren’t buying Vincenz’s story. After sitting through a sheepish denial of his expenses, one judge decided they’d had enough, taking specific offence to the suggestion that a series of spontaneous cabaret visits were a method of meeting entrepreneurs and business managers and a meaningful step in developing the bank’s presence and public profile.
“Do I understand your claim correctly that, when you went alone to a cabaret, there were invariably business people present and every invitation was made in Raifeissen’s business interest?” the judge asked him.
Awkward. Nevertheless, Vincenz is in for a rude shock should he lose the case. Prosecutors are seeking nearly 70 million Swiss francs (AUD$100 million) in total in assets from the banker and the seven other defendants, while also pursuing financial penalties and prison sentences for all but one of them. Got to hope those strip club shouts were worth it.