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Credit Suisse chair Horta-Osório resigns over Covid-19 breaches

The exit of Credit Suisse chair António Horta-Osorio comes less than a year after he was hired to help the bank recover from a string of scandals. Keystone / Andy Rain

Shares in Swiss bank Credit Suisse slipped on Monday after its chair António Horta-Osório quit following an internal probe into his personal conduct, including breaches of Covid-19 rules.

This content was published on January 17, 2022 - 13:00
Reuters/FT/Keystone-SDA/sb

The bank's shares were down around 1.6% in early afternoon trade after news that Horta-Osório had resigned following an investigation commissioned by the board.

“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-Osório said in a Credit Suisse statementExternal link on Monday.

"I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time," he said.

In December, Reuters reported that a preliminary internal bank probe had found that the 57-year-old banker attended the Wimbledon tennis finals in London in July without following Britain's quarantine rules.

The Portuguese banker was forced to apologise the same month after reportedly breaking Swiss Covid-19 rules in November by leaving the country earlier than a ten-day quarantine period allowed.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that the investigation, which was finalised last week, also cited an incident in which Horta-Osório used the bank’s private jet for a personal holiday to the Maldives.

Setback

The abrupt departure is a blow for Credit Suisse and comes less than a year after the Portuguese banker was hired to help reset its strategy after scandals involving the British supply chain finance company Greensill Capital and the collapsed investment firm Archegos damaged the bank’s reputation for risk management and raised questions over its leadership.

Combined these triggered multi-billion dollar losses and sackings at Switzerland's number two bank, and Horta-Osório unveiled a new strategy in November to rein in its investment bankers and curb a freewheeling culture. The Swiss bank was still reeling from the 2020 exit of CEO Tidjane Thiam over a spying scandal.

New chair Axel Lehmann, a Swiss citizen who spent over 10 years at rival UBS and nearly two decades at Zurich Insurance Group, said Credit Suisse would stick to its strategic overhaul despite Horta-Osório’s exit.

He said: “We have set the right course with the new strategy and will continue to embed a stronger risk culture across the firm. By executing our strategic plan in a timely and disciplined manner, without distraction, I am convinced that Credit Suisse will demonstrate the renewed strength and business focus needed to generate sustainable value for all of our stakeholders.”

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