Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS)
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3 Months : From Dec 2019 to Mar 2020
By Margot Patrick
Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam used his new Instagram account to deny he sought out negative information about an employee at the bank.
In a post Sunday, Mr. Thiam said Swiss newspaper reports that he had ordered a search for incriminating material against a former Credit Suisse executive are "entirely false and defamatory."
On Sunday, NZZ am Sonntag reported that Mr. Thiam asked Iqbal Khan, Credit Suisse's former head of international wealth management, to find damaging information about former Europe private banking head Claudio de Sanctis to suppress Mr. de Sanctis's rise within the bank. The report said the alleged request led Mr. Khan to resent and feel bullied by Mr. Thiam. Messrs. Khan and de Sanctis didn't respond to requests for comment.
"Staying silent is no longer a viable strategy," Mr. Thiam said in the Instagram post, his seventh since joining the platform last week. He said he would use Instagram from time to time to speak when false information is spread. He marked the post as a "personal note." The bank also put out an official statement denying the Swiss newspaper report. Mr. Thiam had 2,452 followers as of Monday.
Credit Suisse is trying to contain a scandal that began in September when Mr. Khan, who now works at rival UBS Group AG, spotted and confronted an investigator who was following him on the streets of Zurich. Credit Suisse later blamed its then chief operating officer, Pierre-Olivier Bouée, for ordering the surveillance. It said Mr. Bouée told a law firm hired by the bank that he acted to protect the interests of the bank. The Credit Suisse board said the surveillance order was "wrong and disproportionate" and had damaged the bank's reputation.
Mr. Thiam said Mr. Khan's surveillance was "strictly an isolated incident" and that he hadn't been aware of it. The bank said it didn't find any evidence that Mr. Khan was trying to poach staff or clients. Mr. Thiam didn't know about that surveillance either, Credit Suisse said.
In December, Credit Suisse confirmed that a second executive had been followed earlier in 2019, and again blamed the COO. Mr. Thiam didn't know about that surveillance either, Credit Suisse said.
Mr. Bouée hasn't commented and couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
Mr. Thiam's Instagram post came as pressure is increasing on the bank to explain the extent of its surveillance activities and its oversight of executives. In December, Switzerland's financial regulator, Finma, said it would appoint an independent investigator to look at the surveillance activities.
Finma's chairman, Thomas Bauer, told a Swiss newspaper earlier this month that there are unanswered questions from the episodes on corporate governance and the bank's handling of data. A Finma spokesman Monday confirmed Mr. Bauer's comments.
The Credit Suisse spokesman said it would work with the regulator and the investigator in answering any questions. It said the investigator hasn't been appointed yet. Finma declined to comment on the appointment.
Write to Margot Patrick at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 27, 2020 10:30 ET (15:30 GMT)
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