Credit Suisse Apologizes for Black Janitor Act at Chairman Party

Credit Suisse Group AG apologized for “any offense” caused by a performer who dressed as a janitor at a party for the bank’s chairman last year, causing former Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam to leave the room.

The New York Times on Saturday reported that chairman Urs Rohner held a party at a Zurich restaurant to celebrate his 60th birthday last November. Thiam left after a Black performer came onstage dressed as a janitor, and began to dance to music while sweeping the floor, the newspaper reported, adding that the festivities had a Studio 54 theme, with 1970s costumes.

Credit Suisse Apologizes for Black Janitor Act at Chairman Party

“There was never any intention to cause offense, and we are sorry for any offense caused,” a bank spokesperson said on Wednesday. “This is a total mis-characterization of the evening.” Rohner, via the spokesperson, referred to the lender’s statement.

The incident has sparked a debate about racism within banking and in Switzerland as Credit Suisse seeks to move beyond one of the most damaging episodes in its recent history after it spied on former wealth management head Iqbal Khan, who was leaving for rival UBS Group AG. Last year’s scandal tainted the bank’s reputation, led to the ouster of Thiam after a power struggle, and rattled the usually reserved world of Swiss banking.

“Credit Suisse is strongly committed to equality, diversity and supporting all our employees,” the bank said in a statement. “Over the past year Credit Suisse has taken additional strides to show our commitment to under-represented groups within the firm, and is putting in place broader initiatives to further this. As a company, we are proud to be a geographically and culturally diverse group, and we strive to further strengthen this culture, which supports all our colleagues.”

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