Credit Suisse mastermind Horta-Osorio resigns over Covid-19 breaches

Monday, 17 January 2022

Credit Suisse Chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio has quit following an internal probe into his personal conduct, including breaches of Covid-19 rules, raising questions over the embattled lender’s new strategy as it tries to recover from a string of scandals.

This comes less than a year after Horta-Osorio was hired to help the bank deal with the implosion of collapsed investment firm Archegos and the insolvency of British supply chain finance company Greenshill Capital, even as it was still reeling from the 2020 exit of CEO Tidjane Thiam over a spying scandal.

Combined, these triggered multibillion dollar losses and sackings at Switzerland’s No 2 bank, and Horta-Osorio unveiled a new strategy in November to rein in its investment bankers and curb a freewheeling culture, reports Reuters.

However, Horta-Osorio’s personal conduct has recently come under scrutiny, with reports he breached Covid-19 quarantine rules twice in 2021.

“I regret that a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally,” Horta-Osorio said in a statement issued by Credit Suisse on Monday.

“I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time,” added Horta-Osorio, the former CEO of Lloyds.

Credit Suisse said Horta-Osorio resigned following an investigation commissioned by the board, and that board member Axel Lehmann had become its chairman with immediate effect.

In December, Reuters reported that a preliminary internal bank investigation had found that Horta-Osorio attended the Wimbledon tennis finals in London in July without following Britain’s quarantine rules.

Horta-Osorio also broke Covid-19 rules on a visit to Switzerland in November by leaving the country during a 10-day quarantine period, the bank said in December.

Public scrutiny of the actions of politicians and athletes has increased amid Covid-19 curbs as governments push to get their population vaccinated.

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic flew out of Australia on Sunday after a court upheld the government’s decision to cancel his visa, capping days of drama over the country’s Covid-19 entry rules and his unvaccinated status.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to resign after admitting he attended staff drinks during the May 2020 lockdown.