Review clears Zurich Insurance in CFO’s suicide

Zurich Financial Services Chief Financial Officer Pierre Wauthier committed suicide in August Keystone

An investigation has cleared Zurich Insurance of responsibility in the August suicide of its Chief Financial Officer Pierre Wauthier. Zurich’s chairman Josef Ackermann had stepped down in the wake of the suicide, saying he felt responsible.

This content was published on November 4, 2013 - 11:03 and agencies

A review overseen by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) into the company’s role in Wauthier’s suicide found that he was not subjected to “undue pressure” at work and that Zurich’s management was not at fault.

Circumstances surrounding the 53-year-old’s death had suggested otherwise. In a typed suicide note, Wauthier reportedly blamed Ackermann for putting him under pressure.

To reach its conclusion, FINMA analysed company documents and correspondence, as well as interviewing those close to Wauthier. An analysis of the company’s financial records also did not yield any irregularities, and Zurich complied fully with the investigation.

Ackermann’s resignation in the days following Wauthier’s suicide came as a surprise to many; the former Deutsche Bank chairman stated that he felt he should “take my share of responsibility” for Wauthier’s suicide. He was replaced by Tom de Swaan, Zurich’s Chairman of the Board.

“We are still deeply saddened by the loss of Pierre Wauthier and we are unable to explain the motivation behind his tragic decision,” de Swaan said in a statement after the investigation’s results were announced.

Wauthier, who held both French and British passports, was a resident of Walchwil in canton Zug. Born in 1960, he began his career at KPMG in 1982. He worked for two years at the French foreign ministry and joined J.P.Morgan in 1985, where he stayed until moving to Zurich Insurance in 1996.

He was the second senior Swiss executive in five weeks to take his life after Carsten Schloter, 49, chief executive officer of Swisscom, Switzerland’s biggest phone company, was found dead at his home in July.

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