Credit Suisse CEO quits over spying scandal

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK

Credit Suisse (CS) chief executive Tidjane Thiam on Friday resigned in the wake of a spying scandal at the bank.

The board of the Swiss lender said in a statement it “unanimously accepted” Thiam’s resignation and appointed company veteran Thomas Gottstein as its new chief executive.

Thiam’s resignation follows a spying scandal that shocked the world of Swiss banking. Iqbal Khan, formerly head of Credit Suisse’s wealth management division, was tailed by private investigators working on behalf of the bank last year, leading to a public confrontation in Zurich.

Read more: Car cashes, cocktail party bust ups, and spying: Inside the scandal at Credit Suisse

The incident led to the resignation of Credit Suisse’s chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Bouée in October. However, it emerged at the end of last year that a second Credit Suisse executive had also been followed.

Credit Suisse chief executive officer Tidjane Thiam. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP via Getty Images

Read more: Credit Suisse exec quits over spying scandal

“I had no knowledge of the observation of two former colleagues,” Thiam said in his resignation statement on Friday.

“It undoubtedly disturbed Credit Suisse and caused anxiety and hurt. I regret that this happened and it should never have taken place.”

Shares in Credit Suisse (CSGN.SW) fell 2.5% in early trade in Zurich.

Thiam has been in charge of Credit Suisse since 2015 and overseen a restructure of the bank, focusing on new businesses such as sustainable investing and more traditional wealth management operations.

“I am proud of what the team has achieved during my tenure,” he said Friday. “We have turned Credit Suisse around.”

The logo of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Credit Suisse chairman Urs Rohner said: “Tidjane has made an enormous contribution to Credit Suisse since he joined us in 2015.

“It is to his credit that Credit Suisse is standing on a very solid foundation and has returned successfully to profit. The board of directors and I wish Tidjane all the best for his future endeavors.”

The Financial Times reported earlier this week there was a souring of relations between Rohner and Thiam over the spying scandal, with some shareholders calling for Rohner to resign instead of Thiam.

Severin Schwan, the lead independent director on Credit Suisse’s board, on Friday backed Rohner. Schwan said Rohner had acted “commendably during this turbulent time” and said the board acted “unanimously”.

Thiam resigned on Thursday and will officially step down as chief executive on 14 February, following the bank’s full-year results.

New boss Gottstein said: “I am grateful to the Board of Directors for the trust they have placed in me. I am looking forward to devoting my full energy to this treasured bank, its clients and shareholders.”

Gottstein has been at Credit Suisse since 1999 and currently runs its Swiss banking operations.