Zurich chairman Ackermann quits over CFO suicide

Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:44pm EDT
 
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By Katharina Bart

ZURICH (Reuters) - Josef Ackermann, the former head of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: Quote), resigned on Thursday as chairman of Zurich Insurance ZURN.VX over the apparent suicide of the Swiss insurer's finance chief.

Ackermann said the family of chief financial officer Pierre Wauthier, who had worked at Europe's No. 3 insurance group for 17 years, believed he shared some of the blame for his death.

Wauthier's death came just weeks after the head of telecoms firm Swisscom SCMN.VX, Carsten Schloter, died in another apparent suicide. The deaths have shocked corporate Switzerland and prompted calls for greater support for boardroom high-fliers.

"I have reasons to believe that the family is of the opinion that I should take my share of responsibility, as unfounded as any allegations might be," Ackermann said in a statement, adding that he wanted to avoid any damage to Zurich's reputation.

Swiss police said that Wauthier - who was found dead at his suburban home near Zug on Monday - appeared to have committed suicide.

A spokeswoman for Zurich Insurance did not elaborate on what allegations Ackermann was referring to surrounding Wauthier, who was 53 and left a wife and two children.

Wauthier's widow declined comment on Thursday. And at the family's lakefront home, once a traditional Swiss inn, a security guard said relatives did not wish to talk.

"NO CONFLICTS"   Continued...

 
Zurich Financial Services Group newly elected Chairman Josef Ackermann delivers his speech during his company's annual general meeting in Zurich in this March 29, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Files