GENEVA (AP) - Zurich Insurance Group will investigate whether its former chairman put "undue pressure" on the chief financial officer before his apparent suicide, the company's new acting chairman said Friday.
GENEVA (AP) — Zurich Insurance Group will investigate whether its former chairman put "undue pressure" on the chief financial officer before his apparent suicide, the company's new acting chairman said Friday.
The acting chairman, Tom de Swaan, said the company's board will probe the relationship between Josef Ackermann, who abruptly resigned Thursday, and CFO Pierre Wauthier, who was found dead earlier this week.
De Swaan said the company was informed by authorities that Wauthier left behind a note describing his relationship with Ackermann, a former CEO of Deutsche Bank.
"We were informed that such a letter exists, and we are aware of its content. And it's correct that it relates to the relationship between Pierre Wauthier and Joe Ackermann," de Swaan said in a conference call with investors and analysts.
Ackermann, a former CEO of Deutsche Bank, stepped down because he said Wauthier's family also had leveled accusations against him — including that be bore some of the responsibility for driving Wauthier to kill himself — that could hurt the company.
While he would not detail the note's contents, de Swaan clearly indicated that the probe into undue pressure was the direct result of what Wauthier wrote before his death. Swiss police said Tuesday that Wauthier appeared to have taken his own life.
"The board sees it as its prime responsibility to look into the question as to whether there was undue pressure placed on our CFO," de Swaan said. "Let me be absolutely clear. We, meaning the board and management of Zurich, take corporate culture and behavior very seriously."
Ackermann had left Deutsche Bank only last year to become chief executive of Zurich. The company reported that it was struggling to meet its targets and posted an 18 percent drop in quarterly profits just two weeks before the chief financial officer's death. Over the past year, some top managers left the company, which employs about 60,000 people in more than 170 countries.