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Credit Suisse says it closed Ai Weiwei’s account due to missing documents

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei poses for a portrait in front of his new work titled ‘Pequi Tree’, a 32-meter-high iron tree on display in the grounds of the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum as part of his “Intertwine” exhibition in Porto, Portugal, July 22, 2021. REUTERS / Violeta Santos Moura

ZURICH, Nov.6 (Reuters) – Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) has closed a bank account for Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei due to missing documents, he said on Saturday, in response to his accusation that the Swiss bank had excluded him as part of a strategy to win business in China.

“The bank’s decision was taken in the spring of 2021 because Mr. Weiwei failed to provide the information required by law despite repeated requests from the bank,” the bank said in a statement to Reuters.

“The breakdown in the customer relationship was justified for commercial reasons,” he added, confirming a previous article in the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

Ai wrote in September on the website that the bank had told him it was closing his account because he had a criminal record, although he said he had never been charged with a crime despite having spent 81 days in detention in China in 2011.

“So why did Credit Suisse use my ‘crime’ as a reason to terminate my bank account? Not long ago, the institution announced that it was speeding up its recruitment of employees in China,” he wrote.

“At the same time, it would seek to take majority control of its joint ventures in the securities market and apply for a license that would allow it to expand its business into personal banking and investment banking.”

He then told Reuters: “Even if they back down on this move, I am unwilling to be associated with a bank that has such a strange relationship with China.”

Ai, 64, is one of China’s foremost artists and political activists. He helped design the famous Bird’s Nest Stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics before falling out with Chinese authorities. He now lives in Portugal. Reuters asked for comment on Saturday.

Reporting by John Revill Editing by Peter Graff

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