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Home News Missing paperwork behind closure of Ai Weiwei account: Credit Suisse

Missing paperwork behind closure of Ai Weiwei account: Credit Suisse

Published on 06/11/2021
Written by Reuters/swissinfo/gw
Published from Swissinfo.ch

In response to claims by the Chinese artist that his foundation’s bank account had been shut because of his “criminal record” in China, the Swiss bank told the media on Saturday the decision had in fact been made on administrative grounds.

“The bank’s decision was made in Spring 2021 because Mr. Weiwei [sic] did not provide legally required information despite repeated requests from the bank,” Credit Suisse said in a statement to Reuters, confirming a report in the German-language newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

In a piece he wrote for the website Artnet last September, Ai described how the bank had informed him his foundation’s account would be closed because he had a criminal record. Ai, a high-profile artist and political activist now living in Portugal, spent several weeks in detention in China in 2011 but was never charged with a crime.

“Not long ago the institution announced that it was accelerating its recruitment of employees in China,” Ai wrote, suggesting that he was being shut out because Credit Suisse was trying to win business in China.

The statement by the bank on Saturday admitting that Ai had been a client seemed at odds with its previous response to Ai’s claims, the Tages-Anzeiger pointed out. Back in September, Credit Suisse said it did not comment on “possible or existing client relationships.”

The newspaper also revealed on Saturday that it had analysed documents, including emails and transcripts of conversations between Ai’s staff and Credit Suisse dating as far back as late 2020, that show Ai had provided the bank with information it had requested, such as domicile, income and expenses.

In one conversation, dated March 2021, a Credit Suisse advisor told Ai’s staff the foundation’s account would be closed due to a new regulation whereby the bank must separate from clients with a criminal record. Such a regulation does not exist, according to the Tages-Anzeiger.