Banker parachuted in to expel Credit Suisse’s scandal-laden reputation quits over ignoring Covid-19 rules
The man parachuted in to save Swiss bank Credit Suisse’s crisis-struck reputation quit yesterday after breaching UK Covid-19 quarantine rules.
Banking behemoth António Horta-Osório, 57, resigned as chairman of the Swiss lender after an internal probe found he broke Covid-19 measures to attend the Wimbledon tennis finals last summer.
The departure of Horta-Osório is the latest in a scandal-laden recent history at Credit Suisse that has seen the bank become embroiled in a corporate espionage crisis and lose billions of pounds of clients’ money on risky bets.
Horta-Osório said he regretted “a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally.”
An internal investigation established Horta-Osório broke UK quarantine rules when he flew to London from Switzerland and watched the Wimbledon tennis finals on July 10 and 11 when he should have been quarantining as the latter was on the amber travel list.
The Portuguese banker was airlifted into Credit Suisse from UK bank Lloyds, which he guided through the aftermath of the financial crisis, to spearhead an internal campaign to repair the damage inflicted on the lender’s standing around the world from a series of crises.
In February 2020, then Credit Suisse chief Tidjane Thiam left his post after becoming mired in a corporate espionage saga in which undercover agents were hired to spy on the bank’s former head of wealth management, Iqbal Khan.
A string of risky bets laid by Credit Suisse investment bankers on Bill Hwang’s family office Archegos Capital sharply backfired when the fund defaulted in March 2021, leaving the Swiss lender nursing $5.5bn (£4bn) in losses.
Part of Horta-Osório’s remit was to eliminate a culture of heavy risk taking, short-term profit maximisation and weak management oversight in its investment bank to prevent future Archegos-type scandals from recurring.
Credit Suisse was also forced to freeze $10bn (£7.3bn) in investors’ money when former Prime Minister David Cameron’s ex-employer, Greensill Capital, collapsed. The bank has so far recovered around $6.3bn (£4.8bn) of investors’ money
Board member Axel Lehmann has been enlisted as Horta-Osório’s replacement.