Credit Suisse boss resigns following UBS spying scandal

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Credit Suisse boss resigns following UBS spying scandal
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Credit Suisse said Tuesday that a top executive had resigned after assuming responsibility for the bank's decision to spy on a star banker after he jumped ship to competitor UBS.


The Swiss banking giant said that its chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee had stepped down following an internal investigation into the spying scandal, which has shaken Credit Suisse in recent weeks.

It stressed though that the Homburger law firm which conducted the internal probe found no indication the bank's chief executive Tidjane Thiam was implicated in the decision to have the former head of the wealth management unit, Iqbal Khan, tailed.

Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second largest bank after UBS, also said there was no evidence that Thiam was even aware of the decision before the scandal erupted on September 18.

Swiss media on that day revealed that Credit Suisse had ordered surveillance of Khan, a star banker in Swiss financial circles, over fears he was preparing to poach employees and clients and entice them to follow him to his new employer, where he is due to take up his duties on Tuesday.

The revelation came after Kahn confronted the private investigators tailing him, leading to a fight in the heart of Zurich. Kahn pressed charges. Amid the media frenzy, Credit Suisse's board decided to launch an internal investigation.

The probe found that Bouee had ordered the surveillance of Kahn on August 29, when UBS announced his hire. "The COO said that he alone, in order to protect the interests of the bank, decided to initiate the observation of Iqbal Khan," the bank said in a statement, citing the findings of the internal investigation.

It found that "he did not discuss it with Credit Suisse's Chief Executive Officer, any other member of Credit Suisse's Executive Board, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse or the Chairman of its Audit Committee," it added.

And it stressed that neither the internal probe nor the surveillance of Khan meanwhile "identified any evidence that (he) had attempted to poach employees or clients away from Credit Suisse, contrary to his contractual obligations."

The board said that it appreciated efforts to take "appropriate measures to protect the company's interests, including when senior employees leave the company."

"However, the Board of Directors considers that the mandate for the observation of Iqbal Khan was wrong and disproportionate and has resulted in severe reputational damage to the bank," it said.

Credit Suisse said it had appointed James Walker, who is currently finance chief at its US division, to replace Bouee "with immediate effect". 


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