Credit Suisse clears CEO over second spying accusation

Swiss bank blamed former chief operating officer again for being behind spying on its human resources head.

    Credit Suisse confirmed that another of its senior executives had been spied on, and said it would continue investigating the observation of its employees [File: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters]
    Credit Suisse confirmed that another of its senior executives had been spied on, and said it would continue investigating the observation of its employees [File: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters]

    Credit Suisse on Monday cleared CEO Tidjane Thiam and other top executives from knowledge of a second spying incident, saying former Chief Operating Officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee had the Swiss bank's then-head of human resources followed in February and covered it up.

    Switzerland's second-biggest bank confirmed it was behind the second internal spying scandal to surface this year after a newspaper report last week detailed former human resources head Peter Goerke's tailing.

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    The matter comes as an embarrassment to Credit Suisse after an earlier inquiry into spying on wealth management executive Iqbal Khan depicted the incident as a one-off.

    "The observation of Peter Goerke, which has now been confirmed, is inexcusable," Chairman Urs Rohner said in a statement, noting "grave concern" that those responsible for the tailing had not mentioned it during the earlier investigation.

    "We are aware that the observations of Iqbal Khan and Peter Goerke have damaged the reputation of our bank," he said.

    An investigation by law firm Homburger into the spying on Khan - which became public in September after the departing executive confronted a private detective pursuing him and his wife through Zurich, triggering a criminal investigation - found Bouee and the security boss under him were alone responsible for the order and found no evidence of other cases.

    Both resigned, and now Bouee has been sacked.

    The latest probe, also conducted by Homburger, determined Bouee had lied when asked about any other surveillance orders and had taken care not to leave any identifiable traces in the bank's systems.

    A spokesman for Credit Suisse said on Monday that the bank and Homburger will continue their investigation into employee observation at the bank.

    "We are looking into it," a spokesman said after the bank confirmed that Goerke had been followed. "For the time being, we have no further indications of additional observations."

    While Credit Suisse may have had the motivation to have Khan followed out of fear he would have sought to recruit difficult-to-replace top wealth managers with him to UBS, where he was to become cohead of wealth management, the reasons for Goerke's surveillance have been less clear.

    Colleen Graham, who headed up a joint venture between Credit Suisse and Palantir Technologies Inc, has also alleged the bank took retaliatory measures against her - including surveillance - after she had refused to sign off on how revenue from the joint-venture would be booked.

    Credit Suisse said in a statement that it had conducted a "thorough and comprehensive internal investigations into every one of Ms Graham's claims and found them to be entirely baseless." At the same time, United States Department of Labor investigators "looked at her allegations for more than a year, found that there was no basis for the matter to proceed, and dismissed her claims entirely", it said.

    Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung on Sunday said preliminary results also show no evidence that Thiam knew about the surveillance.

    SOURCE: News agencies