A day after Credit Suisse received its guilty verdict and record-breaking fine, the Swiss media has reacted with criticism for the heads of the Swiss bank as well as for the US. However, there was praise for Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.
“Once again, the Swiss banking sector can thank the cabinet and the finance minister. CS heads Rohner and Dougan should actually give Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf a portion of their fat bonuses, which they’ll probably get this year, too,” suggested German-language tabloid newspaper Blick – acknowledging the fact that this would hardly happen.
The Aargauer Zeitung also grumbled about the bonuses of CEO Brady Dougan and Chairman Urs Rohner.
“The top management of CS didn’t shine with this performance. But it will surely find countless reasons why it’s not directly responsible for the mess. Other people make the mistakes. But the managers take credit for the success and pocket the bonuses,” wrote the paper.
Swiss public radio SRF countered Rohner’s claim that he and Dougan were innocent.
“At the time in question, Urs Rohner was the bank’s chief legal officer and thus responsible for rules and measures in business with US clients,” said the radio station’s business affairs commentator, adding that “Brady Dougan was already the CEO then, making him responsible for everything that the bank did or didn’t do.”
The fact that neither has admitted his guilt to the employees and shareholders is perhaps because “CS can’t afford to have a vacuum at the top right now. The bosses have to stay on board. But in a couple of months…the bosses will have to take responsibility”.
As the Tribune de Genève predicted, the case will leave traces. It added that fate of the boss Dougan seemed sealed: “A leader must admit a failure”.
French-speaking paper Le Courrier denounced “the arrogance and lack of cooperation” from the bank during the three years of the investigation; it suggested that this was partly responsible for the record fine. The whole scandal leaves a “bitter taste”, and CS employees are not immune from criminal prosecution, pointed out the paper.
US also ‘hypocritical’
Credit Suisse wasn’t the only one in the line of the Swiss media’s firing squad. There were shots aimed at the American legal and financial system as well.
“The US took advantage of its home game advantage shamelessly and unfairly. If the Obama administration seriously wanted to prevent global tax evasion, they’d do their part,” argued the Tages-Anzeiger and Der Bund newspapers in a syndicated editorial.
The paper also criticised the US for allowing “Tea Party Senator [Rand Paul] to block the tax accord with Switzerland because he views such international deals as unconstitutional. His ideology is as well-known as it is laughable”. As the papers pointed out, this failure to share information means that Latin American tax evaders can hide their money in Florida and Texas.
It went on to describe Senator Carl Levin’s regrets as “hypocritical” and noted, “We won’t be impressed until the US employs such strict rules at home as it does for banks like Credit Suisse”.
French-language paper Le Temps described the case as a “judicial turning point”, warning that Washington “was no longer willing to let bygones be bygones on the mistakes” of the banks, even if they represent a systemic risk”.
The prestigious Neue Zürcher Zeitung described the case’s outcome as a “tough as nails” example.
“It’s questionable whether the US is doing itself any favours with this form of ‘Cowboy Justice’. Those watching the horrendous increase in the fines will start wondering whether it makes sense to do business in the US finance market,” noted the paper – which also featured a long interview with Rohner, who said that the bank had received a lot of encouragement from its clients.