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Business

Late Zurich Insurance CFO Wauthier not subjected to 'undue pressure' by Ackermann

Zurich Insurance Group has said there are no indications its former CEO exerted undue pressure on its finance chief, who committed suicide in August. Two independent probes were not able to confirm any suspicion.

Former Zurich CFO Pierre Wauthier was found dead on August 26 at his home in Walchwil, Switzerland, in what police said was an apparent suicide. He left behind a typed note, blaming the insurer's then chairman Josef Ackermann for putting him under pressure and describing his strained relationship with the former head of Deutsche Bank.

As a consequence, Ackermann resigned while denying the allegations, saying it would not have been possible to carry out his duties with the required resolve under the given circumstances.

Two independent probes by auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Zurich securities law company Homburger were unable to provide any proof of Ackermann's alleged improper behavior.

The two firms had conducted interviews and scoured scores of emails and other correspondence for evidence that Wauthier was placed under undue stress at work.

Looking ahead is the name of the game

"Two investigations directed by Swiss financial regulators found no indication that Pierre Wauthier was subjected to any undue or inappropriate pressure, and furthermore, the presentation of the financial figures was confirmed as appropriate," Zurich Insurance said in a statement on Monday.

Ackermann had been reported to have clashed with Wauthier in the run-up to a second-quarter earnings report in mid-August. Ackermann had insisted on changes to the presentation, leading the insurer to signal a lack of progress on business targets.

Observers said Zurich had been eager to get the results of the probes out as quickly as possible in a bid to draw a line under the controversy before November 14 when it was due to report third-quarter results.

hg/jlw (Reuters, AP, dpa)