Credit Suisse says CEO Thiam resigns amid spying scandal

In this Nov. 19, 2015 file photo Tidjane Thiam, CEO Credit Suisse, informs the shareholders about a capital increase during an extraordinary general assembly in Bern, Switzerland. Credit Suisse said Chief Executive Officer Thiam is resigning. Thiam will be replaced by Thomas Gottstein, a 20-year veteran of the bank who leads the Swiss unit. (Dominic Steinmann/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam is resigning after nearly five years on the job, acknowledging that a spying scandal caused “anxiety and hurt” and tarnished the reputation of the top-drawer Swiss bank.

The bank said in a statement Friday that its board had accepted Thiam’s resignation a day earlier. It will take effect on Feb. 14, after the presentation of Credit Suisse’s fourth-quarter results. He will be replaced by Thomas Gottstein, the CEO of the bank’s Swiss operations.

Last month, Credit Suisse announced that a second former top executive was snooped on at the behest of its then-chief operating officer, who resigned earlier over another such case.

“I had no knowledge of the observation of two former colleagues,” Thiam said in the statement. “It undoubtedly disturbed Credit Suisse and caused anxiety and hurt. I regret that this happened and it should never have taken place.”

External investigations turned up an operation early last year ordered by Pierre-Olivier Bouee, then the bank’s chief operating officer, to snoop on two former executives including a former wealth management chief, Iqbal Khan, who had joined rival Swiss bank UBS.

Bouee and the head of the bank’s global security services quit over the snooping of Khan, Credit Suisse said in October.

The investigations found no indication or evidence that Thiam knew anything or was informed about the surveillance operations, Credit Suisse has said.

Thiam, who is from Ivory Coast, is the bank’s first African-born CEO and is a graduate of France’s elite Ecole Polytechnique university. Last month, he was one of about two dozen CEOs and other business leaders who dined with U.S. President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland.

Chairman Urs Rohner credited Thiam with making an “enormous contribution” and for returning the bank to profit.

“Under Tidjane’s leadership, Credit Suisse simultaneously re-purposed our strategy, restored our capital, reduced our costs, de-risked our business, promoted diversity and engendered an exceptional level of co-operation between various divisions,” he added. “Credit Suisse is in good health and we have a deep bench of talent which can build on his achievements.”

The 164-year-old bank, which is perhaps best known for its wealth management and investment banking operations, has more than 45,000 employees and had nearly 1.35 trillion Swiss francs (dollars) of assets under management as of the end of 2018.