Pedestrians walk by a sign outside a Credit Suisse Group AG office building. (Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg)

A Banker, an Intern and a Reckoning for Wall Street Bro Culture

(Bloomberg) -- This story might surprise old-school Wall Streeters.

On Tuesday, after weeks of rumbling inside Credit Suisse, Paul Dexter, a senior banker, was let go over a complaint of inappropriate behavior involving an intern. Rumors swirled in M&A circles.

Only this wasn’t a case of sexual harassment, people familiar with the matter said. Rather, unruly workplace behavior -- which, not long ago, might have been grudgingly tolerated by management at many firms -- had finally caught up with Dexter.

The dismissal of a single banker at a single bank might seem inconsequential in this #MeToo era. Yet Dexter’s rise and fall encapsulates the new realities in an industry that’s long celebrated big egos and chest-thumping bravado. It shows how a complaint about one incident is increasingly likely to set off a broader investigation and unearth others, upending a career.

He didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Moving Up

Dexter, a dealmaker at the Swiss bank, long cut an imposing figure inside the firm. Friends said he bragged about bullying junior colleagues, and whispers about his behavior persisted. The bank even took the unusual step of preventing Dexter from recruiting college students because of complaints.

And yet Dexter, 37, kept moving up. Not long ago he was promoted to become a managing director for mergers and acquisitions, after having a front-row seat to the $63 billion Bayer-Monsanto deal being put together. Now Dexter -- a character who some said reminds them of the wild Wall Street of the 1980s -- has been abruptly dismissed, felled by a cultural shift that’s sweeping corporate America.

At Credit Suisse, it seemed like swift judgment: A verdict came down within three weeks of the complaint. But behind the scenes, there were starts and stops that drew criticism within the firm and beyond. At some points, attempts to dispel rumors or quiet the situation only served to further exacerbate the matter.

One move particularly infuriated those who wanted action taken against Dexter. A senior banker instructed witnesses to the incident to maintain confidentiality and not discuss the matter publicly, so the investigation could proceed, said one of the people. But it further inflamed tensions, perceived as an attempt to quash the matter.

“We have robust escalation policies and channels in place through which complaints about conduct can be reported by employees, and we encourage all employees to do so,” said Karina Byrne, a New York-based spokeswoman for Credit Suisse Group AG who confirmed Dexter’s departure. “Where complaints arise, they are thoroughly investigated and, where called for, consequences are appropriately handled.”

Football Star

Dexter joined the Swiss lender in 2005. Growing up in Minnesota, he was a star state footballer who played for his high school team. Two years prior to joining Credit Suisse, he was charged with battery tied to a physical assault in St. Croix County in Wisconsin and entered a deferred-prosecution deal, according to public records and county officials. It allowed for the prosecutor’s office to seek dismissal of the case if he abided by rules and conditions laid out. The charge was dismissed a year later by the prosecutor’s motion.

At Credit Suisse, he was removed from a recruiting team for allegedly inappropriate conduct, a matter the investigating team wasn’t aware of when it began its probe into the complaint this year, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The incident last month that sparked the investigation was initially reported by Dealbreaker. Allegedly, Dexter was intoxicated and physically intimidated a male intern, people with knowledge of the matter said.

After the encounter was reported to Credit Suisse, Dexter initially continued with his regular duties, including visiting a client of the bank in Germany.

Ultimately, the conduct and ethics board at the bank determined that it had to take action. They took into account the incident three weeks ago, as well as prior issues, which were debated and discussed during the decision-making process, the people said.

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