Switzerland: Family stakeholders in AB InBev win against their former lawyer

Today a Swiss court sentenced a Belgium lawyer to 2.5 years in prison for aggravated money laundering and forgery of securities. She was found guilty of stealing AB InBev bearer shares worth some USD 60 million today from the noble de Spoelberch family, one of the richest Belgium families which is also one of three major family stakeholders in the world’s largest brewery.

The 57-year-old woman had managed the affairs of Patrice and Alexis Bailo de Spoelberch, the two adopted sons of the deceased Viscountess Amicie de Spoelberch after her 15 years younger husband Luka Bailo deceased in 2004, three years after their marriage. The two sons accused the lawyer of removing 815,000 AB InBev bearer shares from a Luxembourg safe deposit box in 2004 after their father’s death and depositing these securities at leading private banks in Geneva, Switzerland, taking advantage of the trust placed on her. The shares and their proceeds were allegedly transferred between different banks and to offshore companies, thus obscuring their origin. "Her criminal activity stretched over 10 years, with numerous transfers, opening and closing of accounts and setting up of offshore companies," prosecutor Niki Casonato told the court.

In 2016 Luxembourg already sentenced the lawyer for attempted fraud to 2 years in jail, with 15 months of the sentence suspended. In 2017 she was arrested on a sailboat in Greece before agreeing to extradition to Switzerland. "She already deceived the Luxembourg justice system, there is no way she is going to deceive Geneva too," Casonato said in his opening remarks.

Finally, the court in Geneva sentenced her to 2.5 years in prison, with 15 months of the sentence suspended. Since the convict was already placed in preventive detention before, she will not be jailed in Switzerland. However, Switzerland’s Public Prosecutor's Office has received a request from Luxembourg for her extradition to serve the remainder of the sentence imposed by the Luxembourg court.

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