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Ivanishvili v Credit Suisse Trust Limited [2023] SGCH(I) 9

The Singapore International Commercial Court (International Judge Bergin) has today handed down judgment following the trial of the dispute between Bidzina Ivanishvili and other plaintiffs and Credit Suisse Trust Limited. The claim stemmed from the long-running fraud committed by Patrice Lescaudron, an employee of Credit Suisse Bank in Geneva.  

In a detailed judgment spanning 257 pages, the Court upheld the Plaintiffs’ claim that the Defendant acted in breach of trust. Of particular interest:

  1. Careful consideration was given to the effect of clauses in the trust deed permitting the settlor to reserve powers and the inclusion of so-called anti-Bartlett clauses. In holding that the clauses were not effective to exclude the Defendant’s liability for the losses claimed, the Court emphasised that the nature of a reserved powers trust is not an ‘all or nothing’ concept and distinguished the present case from the situation in Zhang Hong Li v DBS Bank [2019] HKCFA 45 (para 416ff and 526ff);
  2. The Court upheld the Plaintiffs’ claim that the Defendant had breached its duty to safeguard the trust assets and rejected the Defendant’s contention that it was only required to take reasonable care to “police the perimeter” of the trust (para 492ff);  and
  3. The Court dismissed the Defendant’s arguments that the losses fell outside the scope of its duties (para 542ff) and that it could rely on the defence of contributory negligence (para 548ff).

The Court has determined the basis for the assessment of loss and ordered that the calculations of loss be updated following the judgment. The total loss is expected to be in excess of USD 900 million.

Sophie Holcombe and Jamie Randall acted for the successful Plaintiffs with Drew & Napier LLC.

To read the judgment, please click here.