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Attorney General Eric Holder at a Press Conference Announcing the Credit Suisse Resolution
WASHINGTON, D.C. ~ Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remarks as prepared for delivery.

Good afternoon.

Today we are announcing the outcome of a major investigation into massive financial misconduct at one of the world’s largest global banks, Credit Suisse. In both its scope and complexity, the criminal misconduct perpetrated by Credit Suisse in this case is simply astounding. Indeed, as set forth in the court documents filed today, this case offers a stark and disturbing example of the lengths to which some corporate wrongdoers are willing to go in seeking ill-gotten financial gains.

It is exactly the type of wrongdoing that has led to the erosion of the public’s confidence in our financial security and institutions. And it is the kind of financial misconduct we at the Department of Justice will continue to target aggressively.

For more than a decade, Credit Suisse did business with and for countries that the United States had specifically banned from our financial systems. The rules that prohibited financial transactions with these sanctioned nations were in place for many years. Credit Suisse, like all other major global banks, knew well that the United States would not process financial transactions from individuals or companies in places like Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma, and Cuba.

But rather than adhere to the law and decline to serve these customers, Credit Suisse established a business model to allow these rogue players access to U.S. dollars. At one point, the company even developed a pamphlet for its Iranian clients, explaining how to fill out payment messages so as not to trigger U.S. filters. They created a "how-to" book on committing a crime – and it worked well for years.

In another case, a Credit Suisse team leader circulated an email with screen shots of payment applications, showing how to format messages to ensure that they would pass through the United States undetected.

The sanctions put in place against these countries have been deemed appropriate and necessary by numerous Administrations, and are followed by hundreds of financial institutions around the globe. And these rules matter -- they keep dollars out of the hands of countries and individuals that threaten U.S. interests abroad and our national security here at home.

And yet, Credit Suisse thought it didn’t need to play by the rules. The settlement we announce today ensures that Credit Suisse will not flout the law again for its own financial gain, and I can assure you that we will be vigilant in enforcing this settlement and in pursuing other institutions and individuals who engage in similar illegal conduct.

The U.S. financial system is built on trust and transparency. Our banks must know what payments they are processing and for whom. Credit Suisse’s decades-long scheme to flout the rules that govern our financial institutions robbed our system of the legitimacy that is fundamental to it success. We cannot let this stand, and today's settlement sends a strong message that we will not let it stand.

In the tough economic environment we face today, one of this Administration’s most important priorities is to employ our resources aggressively to hold accountable those who engage in financial misconduct at the expense of the American people and to the detriment of the security of our financial markets. We will continue to work tirelessly to carry out this vital mission.

I would like to thank the agents and prosecutors who have worked countless hours, especially in the last few weeks, to get us to where we are today. It is my great and honor and privilege to work with these men and women each and every day.

I’d now like to turn it over to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer.

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