GENEVA — Credit Suisse announced on Monday that its chairman has resigned following an internal investigation that reportedly found that he violated quarantine rules to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resignation of Antonio Horta-Osorio, a British-Portuguese national who took office just under eight months ago, was announced just after midnight on Monday. It’s the latest upheaval at the top-tier Swiss bank, which has faced a slew of troubles of late, including bad bets on hedge funds and an internal espionage scandal.
“I regret that some of my personal actions have caused difficulties for the bank and have affected my ability to represent the bank internally and externally,” Horta-Osorio, 57, said in a bank statement, without elaborating.
“I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interests of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time.”
It will be chaired by Axel Lehmann, a Swiss citizen and former executive at rival bank UBS, who joined Credit Suisse’s board of directors in October.
According to Credit Suisse, Lehmann “succeeds Antonio Horta-Osório, who resigned following an investigation commissioned by the board.” It was not elaborated on, and bank spokesman Dominik von Arx declined to comment beyond the press release.
Swiss media reported on Monday that Horta-Osorio, a former CEO of Lloyds Banking Group in the UK, had broken quarantine rules, including a trip to the UK in December and to the Wimbledon tennis tournament in the summer.
The online news service finews.com reported in late December, citing two sources familiar with the situation, that Horta-Osorio was being investigated on charges of breaching the quarantine.
Leo-Philippe Menzel, spokesman for the St. Gallen region prosecutor’s office in Switzerland, confirmed that they had received a communication from Horta-Osorio that he may have broken the COVID-19 rules and is currently examining them.
The resignation comes after another tough year for Credit Suisse. In October, it announced nearly $700 million in settlements with British and US authorities over lending to Mozambique state-owned companies that Swiss regulators say have violated anti-money laundering rules.
The Swiss Financial Markets Authority announced an investigation in April and is considering possible penalties against Credit Suisse after the bank announced that it had paid a fee of 4.4 billion Swiss francs ($4.7 billion) in connection with an outage from margin calls by US company Archegos Capital.
Credit Suisse didn’t identify what it only described as “US-based hedge funds” — but the agency 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 fund redemptions and subscriptions due to insolvency issues related to partner Greensill Capital.
In 2020, bank CEO Tidjane Thiam resigned after nearly five years in office, acknowledging that a spying scandal caused “fear and pain” and tarnished Credit Suisse’s reputation. The scandal erupted in 2019 after his former wealth manager Iqbal Khan said the bank spied on him after he joined UBS.
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