Credit Suisse Claims It Closed Ai Weiwei’s Account Over Missing Paperwork

November 9th, 2021

Global megabank Credit Suisse has said it shuttered Ai Weiwei’s account because the artist failed to supply the necessary paperwork, despite repeated requests. The bank in September had said that it terminated the account of the Fart Foundation, which Ai set up in 2016 to lobby for free speech, in accordance with its recently established policy of closing accounts belonging to those with criminal records. Ai, who spent several weeks in detention in China in 2011 but has never been convicted of a crime, decried the bank’s move as motivated by its ambition to do business with China and contended that the closure represented the institution’s revenge on the artist for casting it as hypocritical in attempting to win Chinese business by yielding to the country’s economic control.

“The bank’s decision was made in spring 2021 because Mr. Weiwei did not provide legally required information despite repeated requests from the bank,” said the bank this week in a statement to Reuters, adding, “The termination of the client relationship was justified by business reasons.”

The Zurich institution’s statement stands in stark contrast to the reasoning it offered Ai on closing his account earlier this year, according to the German-language Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger. In February, Ai, who lives in Portugal, responded in detail to queries from the bank regarding his about his income, home, and expenses, the paper reported. In March conversation with a Credit Suisse adviser, Ai’s staff were told that the foundation’s account would be closed owing to to a new regulation forbidding the bank to do business with clients with a criminal record.

“Why was Credit Suisse using my ‘crime,’ as its reason to terminate my bank account?” wrote Ai in a scathing editorial for Artnet News in September. “Not long ago the institution announced that it was accelerating its recruitment of employees in China.”

Tages-Anzeiger has reported that no rule demanding the bank separate from clients with criminal records exists.