Exclusive: Zurich CFO suicide review uncovers no impropriety - sources

Fri Nov 1, 2013 4:17pm EDT
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By Katharina Bart and Paul Arnold

ZURICH (Reuters) - Zurich Insurance ZURN.VX is expected to tell investors its finance chief Pierre Wauthier was not subjected to undue strain in the run-up to his suicide and there was no evidence of impropriety in the company's finances, two people familiar with the situation told Reuters.

The insurer had enjoyed a "boring" image before the death of 53-year-old chief financial officer Wauthier and is seeking to draw a line under two tumultuous months.

In a typed suicide note, Wauthier blamed the insurer's then chairman Josef Ackermann for putting him under pressure.

Ackermann, the former head of Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: Quote), denied this but resigned days after Wauthier's death, saying later it would not have been possible to carry out his duties as chairman with the "required resolve".

Auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Zurich securities law firm Homburger have conducted interviews and scoured scores of emails and other correspondence for evidence that Wauthier was placed under undue stress at work, the two sources said.

"Until now, there is no one event or series of occurrences that would qualify as undue pressure," one person at the Zurich-based insurer told Reuters.

A version of the report has been submitted to Swiss financial regulator Finma, a third source said. It is not clear whether Finma, which declined to comment on Friday, was contributing to the review in any way.

Representatives of Zurich Insurance, Homburger and Ackermann declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Pricewaterhouse Coopers was not immediately available for comment.   Continued...

The logo of Zurich Insurance Group is seen at the company's headquarters in Zurich September 2, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann