Credit Suisse under fire as Swiss watchdog steps up snooping scrutiny

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's bank watchdog is stepping up an inquiry into staff surveillance at Credit Suisse , it said on Friday, as pressure mounts on the bank to explain a second alleged instance of an executive being tailed. Credit Suisse said on Tuesday it was looking into a report by a Swiss newspaper that its then-human resources boss was followed by private detectives in February

Reuters December 21, 2019 03:10:14 IST
Credit Suisse under fire as Swiss watchdog steps up snooping scrutiny

Credit Suisse under fire as Swiss watchdog steps up snooping scrutiny

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's bank watchdog is stepping up an inquiry into staff surveillance at Credit Suisse , it said on Friday, as pressure mounts on the bank to explain a second alleged instance of an executive being tailed.

Credit Suisse said on Tuesday it was looking into a report by a Swiss newspaper that its then-human resources boss was followed by private detectives in February. The report revived concerns about its practices after a similar surveillance operation uncovered in September rocked Switzerland's financial centre and prompted the ousting of one of Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam's long-term associates.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that a former executive at a Credit Suisse joint venture told top bank executives as well as U.S. and Swiss authorities that she was put under surveillance in 2017 while in a dispute with the bank.

"The observation activities carried out by Credit Suisse raise various compliance issues," financial market supervisor FINMA said in a statement on Friday. "FINMA's ongoing investigations of this matter will now be stepped up with the help of an independent auditor."

Credit Suisse in October cleared its CEO of snooping on star wealth manager Iqbal Khan after he left the bank for arch-rival UBS , in an incident that badly damaged the second-biggest Swiss bank's reputation and which its board described as "wrong and disproportionate".

Khan, 43, went to the police after a Sept. 17 confrontation with at least one detective who was shadowing him and his wife as they drove through Zurich.

The emergence of a second alleged case of surveillance, reported in detail in Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ) earlier this week, comes as an embarrassment after its chairman said the bank did not condone surveillance of employees. An investigation ordered by the bank into the first case of snooping said it had found no evidence Credit Suisse had ordered observation of other employees.

The probe conducted by law firm Homburger found only two employees -- then-Chief Operating Officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee and the security boss under him, who both resigned -- knew of the surveillance of Khan, which prompted a criminal investigation that remains ongoing.

"Of course I didn't know. I hesitate to say it, but it happens in international companies that one has to do these kind of things," Thiam said in a later interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS. "But it's a legitimate weapon that the bank sometimes unfortunately has to use to protect its business."

A senior officer working in the business intelligence industry who asked not to be named said spying on employees was "very, very rare" in Switzerland and should only be conducted with a very high level of approval within a company.

"It is very sensitive and it can be very damaging if it gets into the public domain," he said.

Following FINMA's statement on Friday, Credit Suisse said it was nearing the completion of its own investigation and would publish the results on Monday.

"Credit Suisse will continue to fully cooperate with FINMA," it said.

(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; additional reporting by John Revill and John O'Donnell; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Louise Heavens and Catherine Evans)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Snow-struck Madrid struggles with cleanup as severe frost grips Spain
World

Snow-struck Madrid struggles with cleanup as severe frost grips Spain

By Elena Rodriguez and Belén Carreño MADRID (Reuters) - Authorities struggled to clear ice and fallen trees from the streets of Madrid on Tuesday and temperatures in parts of Spain hit record lows after a snowstorm wrought havoc across the country at the weekend. Early jubilation at the historic snowfall, which saw skiers gliding through the streets and mass snowball fights, gave way to frustration as most public transport remained stalled and pedestrians avoided the icy streets. "You in Madrid are not ready for this," said Demetrio, a Ukrainian living in Madrid, who did not give his last name.

Trump disavows any responsibility for his supporters' Jan. 6 attack
World

Trump disavows any responsibility for his supporters' Jan. 6 attack

By Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump, facing impeachment on a charge of "incitement of insurrection" on Tuesday disavowed responsibility for his supporters' violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol last week and said his remarks before the siege were appropriate.

Renault and Plug Power to develop fuel-cell commerical vehicles
News & Analysis

Renault and Plug Power to develop fuel-cell commerical vehicles

PARIS (Reuters) - French carmaker Renault and U.S. hydrogen specialist Plug Power have joined forces to develop hydrogen-powered light commercial vehicles, they said on Tuesday. The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a France-based 50-50 joint venture by the end of the first half of 2021, targeting more than 30% share of the fuel cell-powered light commercial vehicle market in Europe, their joint statement said