Outgoing Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau gave New Yorkers a $268 million present yesterday — their share of a huge, $536 million deal reached with a very rich Swiss bank that admitted having illegally routed Iranian funds through the U.S. in violation of trade sanctions.
But the lede on the story in most papers today is the Scrooge-like gripes from Mike Bloomberg that he’s still not getting his fair share of this dough.
The city and state will split their share of the proceeds 50-50, making it $134 million apiece. The mayor told reporters he knew nothing about this sudden windfall, which is even more than he spent on his reelection drive. But his all-but-invisible criminal justice coordinator John Feinblatt (who briefly considered running for DA himself earlier this year) surfaced to tell the Post that Morgenthau’s version of events is “inconsistent.”
That wonderful feud aside, the better reading is contained in the 38-page Deferred Prosecution Agreement between the D.A. and Credit Suisse, the Zurich-based financial colossus that employs some 47,000 workers and offices in 50 countries.
Back in 1997, the venerable bank was assuring its Iranian customers that it would hide their financial dealings in the U.S.: “Kindly note that we take care of your request with the highest cautiousness.”
Such cautiousness included making sure, as a 2005 internal Credit Suisse email put it, that “no reference to Iran be made” in computer entries of deposits sent to American banks. “No Iranian telephone numbers either,” added the bank.
Another CS memo to its honored clients in Tehran read: “All team members are most professional and aware of the special attention such payments of yours do require.”
Just to make sure the dullest Swiss blades got the message, another warning unearthed by the investigation was in all caps: “FOR USD [U.S. dollar] PAYMENTS OUTSIDE CREDIT SUISSE/CS FIRST BOSTON DO NOT MENTION THE NAME OF THE IRANIAN BANK.”
Morgenthau was careful to note that the bank is now sincerely apologetic and cooperated fully in its own investigation.
Another interesting side-note in the Morgy-Bloomy feud is that this is exactly the kind of high-tech white-collar probe that Morgenthau’s nemesis, ex-Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, insisted was a huge waste of taxpayers’ time and money when she ran against him in 2005 (she backed off that claim somewhat this past year when she lost to incoming Morgenthau protege Cy Vance Jr.). The mayor, who is now so concerned about his cut of the proceeds, stayed out of the race. But his financial alter-ego, accountant Martin Geller, wrote a $1,000 check to Snyder last December, a clear signal of where his client’s sympathies lay in the election.