Credit Suisse chairman resigns after ‘personal actions’ probe

By Michelle Toh, CNN Business

The president of Swiss credit resigned following an investigation commissioned by the Swiss bank’s board of directors which reportedly looked into allegations that he broke Covid-19 rules.

António Horta-Osório said in a statement released by Credit Suisse on Monday that “a number of my personal actions caused difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally.”

“So I think my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time,” he added.

The statement did not reveal the nature of the investigation into Horta-Osório, who only joined the bank last April after a decade at the helm of British bank Lloyds.

But the the wall street journal said the investigation focused on driving, including trips that broke Covid rules and his personal use of business jets.

Reuters reported in December that Horta-Osório had “attended the Wimbledon tennis final in July while visiting Britain when the country’s Covid-19 rules required him to be in quarantine”, citing two sources not identified.

A Credit Suisse spokesman declined to comment when asked about the nature of the investigation.

Horta-Osório had been tasked with helping Credit Suisse recover from major losses suffered in the collapse of Archegos Capital and a corporate espionage scandal.

According to a investigation released last summer, the firm’s investment bankers had let the US hedge fund take “voracious” and “potentially catastrophic” risks that culminated in its dramatic fall, costing the bank $5.5 billion.

Two senior Credit Suisse executives were forced out, including its chief investment banker Brian Chin and chief risk officer Lara Warner.

In a statement at the time, Horta-Osório said Credit Suisse had taken “a series of decisive actions” to strengthen risk oversight and was “committed to developing a culture of personal responsibility and accountability”.

Credit Suisse is trying to rebuild its image following two spy scandals in 2019 which led to the departures several senior executives, including former CEO Tidjane Thiam and former CEO Pierre-Olivier Bouée.

Axel Lehmann, a former executive of Swiss bank UBS who joined Credit Suisse’s board of directors last year, will succeed Horta-Osório as chairman.

Prior to UBS, Lehmann worked at Zurich Insurance Group. In a statement on Monday, he said “we have set the right course with the new strategy and will continue to embed a stronger risk culture across the business.”

He also pledged to implement the bank’s “strategic plan in a timely and disciplined manner, without distraction.”

— Hanna Ziady contributed to this report.

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