Zurich Insurance CFO named Ackermann in suicide note

Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:14am EDT
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By Alice Baghdjian and Caroline Copley

ZURICH (Reuters) - The finance chief of Zurich Insurance, Pierre Wauthier, named chairman Josef Ackermann in his suicide note, the company confirmed on Friday as it pledged to investigate whether he had been put under undue strain before his death.

The insurer has been thrown into disarray since company veteran Wauthier was found dead at his family's lakefront home on Monday and the subsequent resignation of former Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: Quote) boss Ackermann three days later.

Ackermann, one of Europe's top financiers, quit after Wauthier's family shared the contents of the letter with senior executives at the firm, a source told Reuters. Wauthier explicitly blamed Ackermann in the note for putting him under pressure, said the source, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Ackermann has described the allegations as "unfounded" but said he would leave to avoid damaging Zurich's reputation. He took over as chairman last year. The insurer said Ackermann had made a personal decision to leave.

Sources said Ackermann and Wauthier had clashed ahead of the company's second-quarter results in August over how they were presented.

Wauthier, finance chief since 2011, mentioned the presentation of the results in his suicide note, a company source added.

In a conference call with investors, the company said there was no link between Wauthier's death and Zurich's financial performance.

"We stand by everything we said at the half year," Chief Executive Martin Senn said.   Continued...

The logo of Zurich Insurance Group is seen at the company's headquarters in Zurich August 27, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann