Banker Brought in to Clean Up Credit Suisse’s Image Resigns Over Breach of Covid Quarantine Rules
11:36 GMT 17.01.2022 (Updated: 11:48 GMT 17.01.2022)
Credit Suisse – the global investment bank and financial services giant headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, has reeled from a series of scandals and poor investment decisions which put a major dent in its reputation and position on Wall Street’s coveted bulge bracket listing of the world’s largest and most profitable banks.
Antonio Horta-Osorio resigned from his post as chairman of Credit Suisse Group on Monday after an investigation by the bank’s board of directors over his use of the company's private jets concluded that he'd breached Switzerland’s Covid-related quarantine rules.
“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. I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time,” the banker said in a press release
Horta-Osorio, the former Lloyds Banking Group CEO hired by Credit Suisse in the spring of 2021, reportedly broke quarantine rules at least twice last year, the first time to attend Wimbledon tennis finals in London in July. In the second incident in late November, he reportedly set off for the Iberian Peninsula from Switzerland without waiting out the mandatory 10-day quarantine period after arriving in the country from the UK.
14 January 2022, 02:49 GMT
Horta-Osorio has been succeeded by Axel Lehmann, a board member hired by Credit Suisse late last year after more than a decade of work at rival Swiss bank UBS’s personal and corporate banking division.
It remains unclear whether Horta-Osorio’s departure is strictly related to quarantine breaches, or if these served as a pretext for the board to ease him out. The banker was hired to clean up Credit Suisse’s image in the wake of a series of scandals, and promised to return “a culture of personal responsibility and accountability” to the organisation.
Credit Suisse’s image suffered substantially in early 2020 after it was revealed that the bank spied on senior employees. These problems were compounded after the bank suffered over $5.5 billion in investment losses in early 2021 following the collapse of Archegos, a US-based hedge fund. Also that year, the folding up of Greensill Capital –a British supply chain finance company, cost Credit Suisse clients approximately $3 billion in losses. Before that, the company was revealed to have defrauded an $850 million loan to Mozambique for a tuna fishing fleet, with $200 million of these funds instead finding their way into the pockets of Credit Suisse bankers and government officials.
14 November 2021, 14:51 GMT
In a statement following Monday’s reshuffle, Credit Suisse officials promised to continue the strategic overhaul begun under Horta-Osorio to address problems facing the bank. “We have set the right course with the new strategy and will continue to embed a stronger risk culture across the firm,” Lehmann said following his appointment.
Credit Suisse’s stock price dropped 1.63 percent on news of Horta-Osorio’s resignation. The company’s shares lost 23 percent of their value in 2021, with the bank’s ranking dropping to 16th place
in a listing of Europe’s largest banks, and total assets of €724 billion ($826.8 billion US) reported that same year.