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Credit Suisse clears its CEO in spying scandal that rocked Swiss banking

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ZURICH (Reuters) – Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) cleared its CEO on Tuesday of snooping on a star wealth supervisor in an episode that noticed suicide, scandal and espionage invade the secretive world of Swiss non-public banking.

The emblem of Swiss financial institution Credit Suisse is seen at its headquarters on the Paradeplatz sq. in Zurich, Switzerland October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The spying on ex-wealth administration chief Iqbal Khan after he left the financial institution for arch-rival UBS (UBSG.S), and the suicide of a personal investigator concerned in organizing the surveillance, has badly tarnished the popularity of the Swiss financial institution and its high managers.

“I’ve not come across anyone who is not shocked by what is happening,” an individual aware of Credit Suisse’s administration stated. “The shock is big. What you’ve seen in the media over the last 10 days has had a massive impact on the staff here.”

Khan, who left Switzerland’s second-biggest financial institution in July and commenced work on Tuesday at UBS, was beneath surveillance by non-public detectives employed by Credit Suisse from Sept. Four to Sept. 17, when he noticed them.

News of a rift between Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam and Khan previous to the latter’s departure has prompted hypothesis over causes for the surveillance, which has roiled Switzerland’s monetary heart, triggered a legal investigation and harm the picture of everybody concerned.

A non-public investigator who organized the surveillance of a senior former Credit Suisse supervisor dedicated suicide final week,

a lawyer for the safety agency on the heart of the spying case stated.

The financial institution’s chairman, Urs Rohner, stated on Tuesday that a private dispute between Khan and Thiam, which had made it unimaginable for the 2 to work collectively, had prompted Khan’s departure however had been unrelated to the hiring of detectives.

The financial institution’s inner probe carried out by legislation agency Homburger discovered Chief Operating Officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee alone initiated commentary of the previous wealth administration govt to see if he was making an attempt to poach former colleagues to hitch him at UBS.

The investigation discovered no proof that Khan had tried to poach workers or shoppers from Credit Suisse.

Bouee – whose skilled life has intently tracked Thiam’s, having labored collectively at McKinsey, Aviva (AV.L) and Prudential (PRU.L) earlier than shifting in 2015 to Credit Suisse – stepped down from his function to take duty for the matter, the financial institution stated on Tuesday.

Bouee and Thiam had been shut associates for the reason that McKinsey days, with Bouee described as extra abrasive than Thiam by one supply who beforehand labored with them each in Britain.

“He was bad cop to Tidjane’s good cop,” the individual stated, including that the 2 normally spoke collectively in French.

A second banker who labored with each added that, whereas Thiam and Bouee had a very good working relationship, Thiam didn’t preserve an inside circle of nearer contacts amongst his crew.

Rohner advised a information convention on Tuesday that Thiam nonetheless loved the total confidence of the board. “We have absolutely zero evidence that he was informed about it,” he stated, whereas apologizing to Khan and his household for the incident.

The board known as the spying operation “wrong and disproportionate” in an announcement, including it had precipitated extreme reputational harm for the financial institution.

The legal investigation of the spying operation continues.

Rohner and John Tiner, head of the board’s audit committee, batted again questions in regards to the credibility of the probe’s findings, saying the incident was uncommon and insisting Thiam was on high of what was taking place on the group.

Only two workers – Bouee and the safety boss beneath him, who additionally resigned – knew of the surveillance, the probe discovered.

However, deleted messages despatched on safe platform Threema utilized by Bouee and safety personnel had restricted the scope of the findings, Homburger managing associate Flavio Romerio stated.

Messages between Bouee and Thiam from Aug. 22 onward, which have been despatched through firm e-mail and messaging platform WhatsApp, had been reviewed and located to not be related, he added.

Thiam didn’t attend the information convention.

Two large buyers stated final week that they needed Thiam, architect of a sweeping three-year revamp on the financial institution, to remain until it was proven he broke the legislation, however shareholders largely remained silent on Tuesday as Credit Suisse’s shares reversed early features to shut down 2.9%.

BAD BLOOD?

Khan was often known as a clean and impressive supervisor placing life into Thiam’s technique of reshaping the financial institution right into a wealth administration juggernaut to rival greater peer UBS.

Under his watch, the International Wealth Management enterprise he led greater than doubled earnings and sharply boosted the shopper belongings it handles.

The abrupt departure of Pakistan-born Khan, who moved to Switzerland when he was 12, uncovered his falling out with Thiam, the 57-year-old Franco-Ivorian govt who revamped a stagnant Credit Suisse by reducing 1000’s of jobs, scaling again funding banking and bolstering its steadiness sheet.

Rohner stated a heated trade that happened between the 2 in January prompted the chairman to get entangled.

“The decisive question for me was whether the differences between the two gentlemen… would impact their cooperation going forward,” Rohner stated, including their efficiency was unaffected at first. “But it became apparent that a long-term, trusting and mutual cooperation was no longer possible and that Mr. Khan wanted to leave the bank.”

Slideshow (4 Images)

Khan’s swap to co-head of wealth administration at market chief UBS sealed the divorce.

Khan, 43, went to the police after the Sept. 17 confrontation with not less than one detective who was shadowing him and his spouse as they drove via Zurich. Conflicting variations have emerged of how the incident unfolded.

A spokesman declined touch upon behalf of Khan, stating that “Mr. Khan being now with UBS will not comment on today’s announcement of Credit Suisse”. UBS additionally declined to remark.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Negaiwhi, Michael Shields and Oliver Hirt; Additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn, Joshua Franklin and Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by John O’Donnell/Edwina Gibbs/Susan Fenton


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