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Overhauling governance Troubled Raiffeisen bank nominates new chairman

Guy Lachappelle

Guy Lachappelle has been nominated for the challenging post

(Keystone)

Swiss bank Raiffeisen has nominated turnaround expert Guy Lachappelle as chairman and proposed four new directors after months of tumult and scrutiny by the authorities.

Lachappelle, a lawyer, has been chief executive of Basler Kantonalbank since 2013. If elected by shareholders, he will be responsible for implementing a series of governance reforms that have already begun at the scandal-hit banking cooperative.

This includes weighing up a suggestion by the Swiss financial supervisor to convert Raiffeisen into a limited company. Lachapelle’s predecessor, Johannes Rüegg-Stürm, resigned in March as Zurich prosecutors launched a criminal investigation into fraud allegations against former CEO Pierin Vincenz.

“Guy Lachappelle is a very experienced banker who identifies with Raiffeisen’s cooperative values and has successfully proved himself in transformation processes,” Raiffeisen deputy chairman Pascal Gantenbein said in a statementexternal link.

Lachappelle said he was honoured to be chosen to head the lender through what he called challenging times. “Given my previous activities and experience I feel well prepared to take on the chair of an organisation about to make important decisions,” he said.

The appointment and that of the four directors will need to be approved by the delegates’ assembly on November 10.

“Serious shortcomings”

Financial market supervisor FINMA said in June it had found “serious shortcomings” at Raiffeisen in a probe related to the fraud allegations against Vincenz. It said that the bank failed to adequately supervise Vincenz.

It told Switzerland’s third-largest bank, which is owned cooperatively by 1.9 million customers and is not listed, to conduct a detailed analysis of converting into a limited company, a step that could improve corporate governance.

+ Read more about FINMA’s findings here

Prosecutors are investigating Vincenz, who denies wrongdoing but has been forced to resign, on suspicion of breach of trust linked to cashless payments business Aduno as well as private equity firm Investnet.

Lachapelle’s tasks would include appeasing the regulator and rehabilitating the bank’s reputation, experts say. The proposed head of Raiffeisen’s revamped board would also have to find a new CEO.

Reuters/SDA-ATS/Finews/ilj

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