Swiss open enforcement case against Credit Suisse in spy affair

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland’s financial supervisor has opened enforcement proceedings against Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) over a spying scandal that led to the ousting of former Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam and tarnished its reputation.

The move by FINMA intensifies the regulatory pressure on Credit Suisse and follows the completion of a review of the bank’s corporate governance by an independent auditor and its use of electronic communications in connection with the surveillance of former employees.

FINMA said on Wednesday it will pursue indications of violations of supervisory law and in particular the question of how these activities were documented and controlled.

Credit Suisse said it would cooperate “to ensure a complete and expeditious conclusion of the review of this episode and incorporate lessons learned.”

The bank had tried to remove the auditor, Thomas Werlen, appointed by FINMA as part of its probe into the bank, because his law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan had been involved in legal cases against it.

Credit Suisse’s appeal of a lower court decision that backed Werlen’s appointment is pending in the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

FINMA declined to comment on how Credit Suisse’s ongoing appeal and the pending court decision could impact its enforcement proceedings.

Credit Suisse reiterated on Wednesday that spying on employees was not part of its culture.

Revelations of corporate espionage erupted last year when it emerged Credit Suisse had been snooping on former wealth management boss Iqbal Khan, who was leaving for rival UBS (UBSG.S), and former human resources head Peter Goerke.

An internal Credit Suisse probe concluded that Thiam didn’t know about the spying, and that Chief Operating Officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee was responsible. Bouee, a longtime confidant of Thiam, was fired late last year and has not commented publicly on the scandal.

Thiam resigned in February and Credit Suisse hired Thomas Gottstein, a bank veteran, to replace him.


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