Tidjane Thiam, CEO of Credit Suisse, is stepping down after almost five years and admits that a spy scandal has caused "fear and pain" and has tarnished the reputation of the Swiss top drawer bank.
The bank said in a statement on Friday that its board had accepted Thiam's resignation the day before. It will take effect on February 14 after the fourth quarter results are presented to Credit Suisse. He will be replaced by Thomas Gottstein, the CEO of the Swiss bank.
The espionage scandal broke out last year after the former asset manager, Iqbal Khan, was spied on by Credit Suisse after he joined the rival bank UBS. An external investigation found that Pierre-Olivier Bouee, then Chief Operating Officer of Credit Suisse, ordered the espionage operation to sniff out Khan and other former executives.
"I had no knowledge of the observation of two former colleagues," said Thiam in Friday's statement. "It undoubtedly disturbed Credit Suisse and caused unrest and injuries. I regret that this happened and should never have happened."
Bouee and the head of the bank's global security services have left the scandal behind, Credit Suisse said in October.
The external investigation found no evidence or evidence that Thiam knew anything or was informed about the surveillance measures.
The Financial Times and others report that Thiam's relationship with Chairman Urs Rohner broke down after the scandal. Major shareholders supported Thiam as a talented and successful leader and asked the chairman to publicly support him.
Ivory Coast-born Thiam is the first African-born CEO of the bank and has a degree from the French elite university Ecole Polytechnique. Last month he was one of around two dozen CEOs and other managing directors who had dinner at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) with US President Donald Trump.
Rohner accused Thiam of making an "enormous contribution" and bringing the bank back into the profit zone.
"Under the leadership of Tidjane, Credit Suisse has simultaneously revised its strategy, restored our capital, reduced our costs, jeopardized our business, promoted diversity and created exceptional collaboration between different business areas," he added. "Credit Suisse is in good health and we have a deep talent that can build on its performance."
The 164-year-old bank, perhaps best known for its wealth management and investment banking activities, employs more than 45,000 people and had assets under management of nearly $ 1.35 trillion (USD) at the end of 2018.