Credit Suisse CEO Thiam Breaks Silence on Spying Scandal
(Bloomberg) -- Tidjane Thiam tried to win back his troops at Credit Suisse Group AG after surviving a spying scandal, telling staff in a memo that “full accountability” has been taken with the resignation of his long-time confidante.
Recent events are “deeply regrettable” as the reputation of Switzerland’s second-largest bank has suffered and mistakes have been made, the Chief Executive Officer wrote in an internal memo seen by Bloomberg News. Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Credit Suisse’s board of directors on Tuesday exonerated Thiam, saying an internal probe found no evidence that he knew about the shadowing of former international wealth-management head Iqbal Khan. The bank ousted Chief Operating Officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee, a key ally of Thiam’s, after he ordered the spying to ensure Khan didn’t poach clients and brokers for his new post at UBS Group AG.
“The report confirms that the surveillance of Iqbal Khan was strictly an isolated event and full accountability has been taken by the individuals concerned,” Thiam said in the memo. “Difficult questions about culture and ethical standards have been raised. The board moved swiftly to address these.”
Thiam hasn’t said yet in public when he first knew about the spying. He didn’t attend a press briefing Tuesday in Zurich presenting the bank’s findings.
While Chairman Urs Rohner said that Thiam still enjoys the backing of the board of directors, the scandal risks isolating the CEO after it emerged that Thiam and Khan were embroiled in an altercation in January, just months before Khan’s departure.
Events took on an even more dramatic turn just before the bank’s announcement, amid reports that a contractor hired to recruit the corporate spies took his own life. The man -- known only as T -- died last Tuesday, according to Thomas Fingerhurth, a lawyer for detective agency Investigo. Zurich prosecutors and police are now conducting further investigations to “clarify the circumstances surrounding the death.”
Thiam has led Credit Suisse since 2015. He executed a deep restructuring program under which he and Bouee cut costs and pivoted the bank toward wealth management. While performance has improved this year, Credit Suisse shares are down by about half since Thiam took over.
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