January 16, 2020 / 7:34 AM / 7 days ago

Credit Suisse still has questions to answer in spying affair says watchdog

ZURICH (Reuters) - Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) still has questions to answer about its surveillance activities which came to light last year, the head of Switzerland’s financial watchdog on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at its headquarters at the Paradeplatz square in Zurich, Switzerland October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“The use of external security companies is not a supervisory issue per se,” Thomas Bauer, chairman of FINMA said. “In this case, however, we still have unanswered questions about governance, such as documentation, control, information behavior and communication channels,” he told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

“For us it [the Credit Suisse spying affair] is a case about which we still have questions,” Bauer added.

Credit Suisse admitted last month to spying on another of its former executives, deepening a scandal at the Swiss group which is already under investigation for putting its ex-wealth management chief under surveillance.

Switzerland’s second-largest lender blamed former chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee for hiring detectives in February to track then HR boss Peter Goerke.

It described a rogue operation in which all executives and directors, including Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam, were kept in the dark about what was going on.

Credit Suisse had earlier blamed Bouee for a similar incident involving former wealth management boss Iqbal Khan and had also cleared Thiam of any role in it. At the time, Thiam characterized it as an “isolated incident”.

FINMA, Switzerland’s financial market supervisor, has appointed an independent investigator to look into the affair.

Bauer said the investigation would clarify the picture for FINMA, adding the affair which has rocked Switzerland’s financial center, could damage the industry’s reputation.

“The first step of the investigation is to answer our open questions,” Bauer said. “Whether or not there will be regulatory consequences remains open.”

Reporting by John Revill; editing by Jason Neely

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