Josef Ackermann, chairman of Zurich Insurance Group, has stepped down from his post citing the suicide of his colleague and the company’s chief financial officer Pierre Wauthier on Monday.This content was published on August 29, 2013 - 09:14
In a company release, Ackermann said his colleague’s untimely death had profoundly affected him and that he felt partially responsible. The 53-year-old Wauthier was found in his home in Zug on Monday morning, with preliminary reports indicating a suicide.
“The unexpected death of Pierre Wauthier has deeply shocked me. I have reasons to believe that the family is of the opinion that I should take my share of responsibility, as unfounded as any allegations might be,” Ackermann wrote.
“As a consequence, I see the possibility of a continued successful Board leadership to the benefit of Zurich called into question. To avoid any damage to Zurich’s reputation, I have decided to resign from all my Board functions with immediate effect."
The board has said it respects the decision, which it accepted “with great regret”. The vice-chairman of the group’s board Tom de Swaan will take over Ackermann’s former role as chairman until a replacement is named.
Ackermann joined Zurich Insurance Group in March of 2012, following work as the chief executive at Deutsche Bank and a long career in the financial sector.
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 appointed CFO in September 2011 after previous roles as group treasurer and head of centrally managed businesses at the Swiss insurer.
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