Wozchod Being Liquidated Following Big Loss
BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ Moscow’s principal gold-trading outlet in the West, Wozchod Commercial Bank Ltd. of Zurich, is being liquidated by its Soviet owners following ″very large″ losses, the head of the Swiss Federal Banking Commission said Friday.
Director Bernhard Mueller said at a press conference that Wozchod’s share holders, the Soviet State Bank and the Soviet Foreign Trade Bank, had decided on the liquidation after talks with his watchdog commission.
The announcement came three months after Wozchod’s chief gold dealer, a Swiss national, was fired for alleged irregularities. A complaint filed by the bank accused the dealer, Walter Peterhans, of criminal mismanagement that caused ″substantial″ losses.
Swiss newspaper reports then cited estimates that the losses ranged between 400 million and 1 billion Swiss francs - about $140 million to $350 million.
Mueller declined to give figures but said the losses were ″very large.″
He said the Soviet Foreign Trade Bank would take over Wozchod’s assets and planned to open a branch of its own in Zurich. Wozchod was founded in 1966 and reported a balance sheet total of 1.1 billion Swiss francs, or about $388 million, in 1983.
Beside being a seller of gold for the Soviet Union, which ranks behind South Africa as the world’s largest producer, Wozchod Bank also had a key role in East-West commercial deals.