Chairman of Zurich Insurance resigns over suicide [Cape Argus (South Africa)]
(Cape Argus (South Africa) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ZURICH: Josef Ackermann, the former Deutsche Bank boss, resigned yesterday as chairman of Zurich Insurance over the apparent suicide of the Swiss insurer's chief financial |officer.
Ackermann said the family of Pierre Wauthier, who had worked at Europe's number three insurance group for 17 years, believed he shared some of the blame for his death.
"I have reasons to believe the family is of the opinion I should take my share of responsibility, as unfounded as any allegations might be," he said yesterday.
"As a consequence, I see the possibility of a continued successful board leadership to the benefit of Zurich called into question," he said.
On Tuesday, police said Wauthier - who was found dead at his home in a lakefront suburb of Zug outside Zurich on Monday - appeared to have committed suicide.
His death came soon after the suicide of another top Swiss executive, the head of telecoms firm Swisscom in July.
A spokeswoman did not elaborate on what allegations Ackermann was referring to surrounding Wauthier, 53, who leaves a wife and two children.
Wauthier's death and the apparent suicide of Swisscom boss Carsten Schloter five weeks ago, have prompted calls for greater support for boardroom high-fliers.
Zurich's chief executive, Martin Senn, said he was not aware of any dispute that could have driven Wauthier to his death.
Ackermann's departure means Zurich loses the leadership of a top European banker, who transformed Deutsche Bank during a decade there and then played a role in the European financial crisis as chairman of the Institute of International Finance.
He was often touted as a possible candidate for top financial jobs in Switzerland, including as head of the Swiss National Bank, before he took the relatively low-key role at Zurich.
Ackermann has survived controversy before, having agreed in 2006 to make a E3.2 million payment (R43.8 million), without any admission of wrongdoing, to avoid trial in a dispute over golden handshakes to executives at telecoms firm Mannesmann.
Since returning to Switzerland in 2012, Ackermann has become a forceful advocate for the Swiss financial sector.
But Ackermann's arrival at Zurich failed to steady the ship, since its top ranks have seen considerable change in the past 12 months.
Former general insurance head Mario Greco left in mid 2012 to become head of Italian insurer Generali. Two weeks ago the head of its life insurance arm, Kevin Hogan, became AIG's head of consumer insurance.
The shares were down 3.0 percent by 12.23 local time at 227.5 francs (R2 500), but remained above the low they reached after news of Wauthier's death on Tuesday.
Zurich's vice-chairman, Tom de Swaan, will take over as acting chairman. - Reuters
(c) 2013 Independent Newspapers (Pty) Limited. All rights strictly reserved. Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]