ZURICH, May 12 (Reuters) - Credit Suisse Chief Executive Brady Dougan is under pressure from lawmakers to resign over the Swiss bank’s role in helping wealthy Americans dodge taxes, a legal headache that could cost the bank as much as $1.6 billion to resolve.
Switzerland’s left-wing Social Democrats (SP) called for Dougan to step down now saying he and other executives represented part of the problem, as the Zurich-based lender seeks to settle the tax evasion case with U.S. authorities.
“If you’re justifying your high salary with the responsibility you carry, then you cannot duck that responsibility in an emergency,” SP president Christian Levrat said in a statement on Sunday.
Levrat’s comments pair the hot-button issue of bankers’ pay in Switzerland with the long-running pursuit of Swiss banks by U.S. authorities over untaxed funds held offshore, which has intensified for Credit Suisse in recent weeks.
Credit Suisse lifted Dougan’s pay by more than a quarter last year to 9.8 million Swiss francs ($11.06 million), despite not meeting all performance targets and a hike in litigation costs related to the U.S. probe.
Centrist BDP politician Martin Landolt - a former banker who spent three years at rival UBS - stopped short of calling for Dougan to leave now, but said the banker might consider resigning once the tax case is settled.
“When a solution for the U.S. problem is found, depending on what the settlement is, I would find it appropriate for Dougan to take responsibility and make way for a new beginning,” Landolt told Reuters on Monday.
“This is necessary to ensure Credit Suisse’s image doesn’t suffer, for client trust to be restored, and for the bank’s own credibility.”
Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Dougan, an U.S. citizen and 24-year veteran of Credit Suisse, has been a lightning rod for pay criticism since 2010, when a five-year share bonus programme topped up his regular salary to 90 million francs.
Shareholders grilled Dougan and other top executives over their pay at Credit Suisse’s shareholder meeting on Friday, but two pay-related votes were ultimately approved.
$1 = 0.8861 Swiss Francs Reporting By Katharina Bart; Additional reporting by Oliver Hirt and Joshua Franklin; Editing by Erica Billingham