Antigua and Barbuda ambassador Dario Item makes sensational international scoop in Credit Suisse AT1 case


A truly incredible story that has been picked up by the world’s financial press and brought the Caribbean, and Antigua and Barbuda in particular, to the world’s attention has come to light in recent days.

Dr. Dario Item is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Principality of Monaco, and to the UNWTO.

In addition to being an ambassador, Dr. Dario Item is also an international lawyer with extensive experience in banking law and asset management.

On March 19, 2023, in a decision that shocked the financial world and created great instability in the financial markets, the Swiss regulator (FINMA) ordered the write-down of Credit Suisse Group’s AT1 bonds worth CHF 16 billion (USD 17 billion).

This staggering measure was taken in the context of the Swiss government’s decision to bail out Credit Suisse.

Thousands of appeals were filed against FINMA’s decision with the Swiss Federal Administrative Court. Against it, not only large investors but also a great many small savings investors have risen up.

The decree by which FINMA ordered the write-down of the AT1 bonds remained inexplicably secret at the behest of the Swiss regulator until the Swiss Federal Administrative Court intervened and, in an interim decision, agreed with the investors by ordering FINMA to disclose the contents of the decree.

Ambassador Dario Item was the first in the world to publish the full content of the decree dated March 19, 2022. And he was also the first in the world to reveal to the public, and to publish in full, the contents of a second decree issued by FINMA on March 22, 2002, and which had until then remained completely unknown.

In a detailed article published on on May 15, 2023, Dr. Dario Item first revealed the blatant contradictions contained in the FINMA decree of March 19, 2023 regarding the true financial health of Credit Suisse. In particular, he pointed out the blatant contrast between what FINMA reported therein and what, on the other hand, had been stated only a few days earlier by FINMA itself, the Swiss government, the Swiss National Bank and Credit Suisse management.

But the most surprising aspect certainly emerged in the FINMA decree of March 22, 2023. Indeed, from reading that document, Ambassador Dario Item discovered that Credit Suisse had even warned FINMA that there was no contractual basis for executing the write-down of AT1 bonds.

Ambassador Item finds it highly plausible that it was precisely the absence of a sound contractual basis that led the Swiss government to adopt new emergency legislation with retroactive effect (Art. 5a PLB-NVO). In other words, the adoption of new ad hoc rule would have been necessary to better defend FINMA’s willingness to write-down AT1s. This rule, which the AT1 bondholders claim is unconstitutional, is now being closely examined by the Swiss Federal Administrative Court.

This important news published by Ambassador Dario Item was noticed and picked up by the Financial Times, which, although incredulous that a scoop of such magnitude could have been published by a virtually unknown news website, confirmed the absolute authenticity of the documents and the huge importance of the news.

Even, well-known Financial Times journalist Robert Smith described the article published by Ambassador Item as “one of the most consequential European banking scoops of the year … whose significance somehow went largely unnoticed for the best part of a week”.

Other major financial news outlets also immediately noticed and reported the news.

In particular, Reuters published a story on May 18, 2023 also confirming the scoop and the veracity of the documents and Finews did the same the following day.

The increased interest of the international financial press in this incredible scoop finally led the Financial Times to even devote an entire story to Ambassador Item, published on May 24, 2023. The extremely bright and hilarious article concludes by stating that Ambassador Dario Item’s extraordinary personality “is certainly illustrative of the same can-do approach that led the international lawyer and diplomat to take matters into his own hands when the world’s financial press missed the real story on Credit Suisse.”.

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