Switzerland-based Credit Suisse Group and a UK subsidiary have admitted to conspiring to commit wire fraud by defrauding US and international investors through an $850 million (€731 million) loan to finance a tuna fishing project in Mozambique.
As part of its settlement, Credit Suisse was fined more than $547 million (€470 million) in penalties, fines and legal remedies as part of coordinated resolutions with criminal and civil authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Of that, Credit Suisse was fined around $475 million (€408 million) as well as restitution to victims in an amount to be determined by the court, after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) took account of crediting of other resolutions.
The case stems from $2 billion (€1.7 billion) in debt deals between 2013 and 2014 with state-owned companies meant to fund the cost of a new maritime patrol force and tuna fishing fleet in Mozambique, dubbed Empresa Moçambicana de Atum, S.A. (EMATUM).
The indictment said those involved paid inflated prices for equipment and services in the so-called "tuna bond" scheme, and only a portion actually went to the maritime projects.
Credit Suisse knew experts identified a shortfall of between $265 million (€227 million) and $394 million (€338 million) between the funds raised for the EMATUM loan and the fair market value of the boats and accompanying infrastructure, DOJ said.
Once investigators discovered the wrongdoings, investors bailed on the bonds, plunging the country of Mozambique into debt.
When the US government became involved in the case, it alleged the contracts were a front that benefited government officials and bankers.
Credit Suisse made "numerous material misrepresentations and omissions" related to loan proceeds, kickbacks to employees, bribery risks for Mozambique officials and other issues, according to the DOJ.
In all, Credit Suisse employees were paid around $50 million (€43 million) in kickbacks, while Mozambican officials were paid $150 million (€129 million).
Earlier, Andrew Pearse, a former Credit Suisse managing director in Europe, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Surjan Singh, a former European managing director, and Detelina Subeva, a former vice president, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.