October 30, 2019 / 11:02 AM / 17 days ago

Credit Suisse CEO says Khan spying affair leaves business unscathed

(This October 30 story corrects first name of former COO in fourth paragraph)

FILE PHOTO: CEO Tidjane Thiam of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Zurich, Switzerland February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) - Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam said a “media campaign” surrounding the Swiss bank’s tailing of former International Wealth Management executive Iqbal Khan had left clients undeterred and business unscathed.

Speaking publicly on Wednesday for the first time since the incident last month prompted an internal inquiry which cleared him, Thiam said he had not directly or indirectly authorised the surveillance.

He said he had been unaware of the tailing until it triggered a criminal complaint after a showdown between Khan and at least one private detective in Zurich’s city centre.

The incident shook up Swiss banking and badly damaged Credit Suisse’s reputation, costing then-chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee, one of Thiam’s close allies, his job and exposing enmity between Thiam and Khan, who now works for arch-rival UBS (UBSG.S).

Thiam on Wednesday said he hadn’t let a personal dispute — which Chairman Urs Rohner this month said had prompted Khan’s departure — affect his working relationship with Khan.

“I gave him the capital to do well, I gave him the support to do well,” the CEO told journalists at the bank’s third-quarter news conference. “At no point have I or would I let the personal affect the professional.”

Switzerland’s second-biggest bank reported strong third-quarter profits, helped by both its wealth management and global markets businesses, giving a boost to Thiam as he tries to move on from the spying scandal.

Distancing himself from any strong personal links to long-time associate Bouee, whom the bank held responsible for ordering the surveillance, Thiam said he had not thought to resign over the incident and would leave his 2019 remuneration to the responsible compensation committee.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields

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