Credit Suisse chairman resigns after internal investigation

Credit Suisse says its chairman has resigned following an internal investigation that reportedly turned up that he had violated quarantine rules intended to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

ByJAMEY KEATEN Associated Press
January 17, 2022, 10:43 AM

GENEVA -- Credit Suisse said Monday that its chairman has resigned following an internal investigation that reportedly found he violated quarantine rules intended to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resignation of Antonio Horta-Osorio, a British-Portuguese national who took the job barely eight months ago, was announced shortly after midnight Monday. It is the latest upheaval at the top-drawer Swiss bank that has faced an array of recent troubles including bad bets on hedge funds and an internal spying scandal.

“I regret that a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally,” Horta-Osorio, 57, said in a statement from the bank, without elaborating.

“I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time.”

Axel Lehmann, a Swiss national and former executive at rival bank UBS who joined the Credit Suisse board in October, will take over as chairman.

Credit Suisse said Lehmann “succeeds Antonio Horta-Osório, who resigned following an investigation commissioned by the board.” It did not elaborate, and bank spokesman Dominik von Arx declined to comment beyond the news release.

Swiss media reported Monday that Horta-Osorio, a former CEO of Lloyds Banking Group in Britain, had violated quarantine rules, including traveling to Britain in December and to the Wimbledon tennis tournament over the summer.

Online news service, citing two sources familiar with the situation, reported in late December that Horta-Osorio was being investigated over allegations of breaking quarantine.

Leo-Philippe Menzel, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in the Swiss region of St. Gallen, confirmed that it had received a notice from Horta-Osorio that he might have breached COVID-19 rules and was in the process of examining it.

The resignation comes after another tough year for Credit Suisse. In October, it announced settlements totaling nearly $700 million with British and U.S. authorities over lending to Mozambique state-owned companies that Swiss regulators say violated anti-money laundering rules.

The Swiss financial markets authority in April announced an investigation and is looking into possible penalties against Credit Suisse after the bank announced it was taking a 4.4 billion Swiss franc ($4.7 billion) charge linked to a default on margin calls by U.S.-based Archegos Capital.

Credit Suisse did not identify what it called only a “U.S.-based hedge fund” — but the authority, known as FINMA, did.

FINMA also confirmed proceedings against the bank over its so-called supply chain finance funds, or financial instruments reserved for select clients. The bank announced a pause in redemptions and subscriptions in the funds over insolvency issues linked to partner Greensill Capital.

In 2020, bank CEO Tidjane Thiam resigned after nearly five years on the job, acknowledging that a spying scandal caused “anxiety and hurt” and tarnished the reputation of Credit Suisse. The scandal erupted in 2019 after its former wealth management chief, Iqbal Khan, said the bank was spying on him after he joined UBS.


Associated Press reporter Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.

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