We usually don’t associate corporate espionage, car chases, physical altercations and a suicide with the staid conservative world of Swiss banking. Credit Suisse, the Swiss-based banking giant, broke this stereotype as its chief executive officer, Tidjane Thiam was pushed out of the company after two alleged incidents of spying on former top-level executives.
Thiam—the first black CEO of a major European bank—resigned after he lost the confidence of the bank’s board of directors in the wake of a scandal in which private investigators, hired by Credit Suisse, spied on two former senior-level executives. It was announced by the bank on Friday that the board accepted Thiam’s resignation. Thomas Gottstein, a top executive in Switzerland, will take over the CEO role.
Leading up to the ouster, Thiam and Credit Suisse chairman Urs Rohner had reportedly been at odds over the accusations of espionage. The first reported incident was that of Iqbal Khan, the former head of the bank’s lucrative and highly successful wealth management unit. Khan was said to have bristled under Thiam’s management and told others that he was not shown the appreciation that he deserved. There was talk of Khan potentially taking over the CEO position.
It’s been reported that Thiam and Khan were on bad terms. Khan, in addition to being a successful banker, was neighbors with Thiam. The animosity and tensions steadily grew between the two men and was amplified when Thiam complained about annoying renovations taking place at Khan’s home. Thiam spitefully planted trees on his grounds, which blocked Khan’s view of Lake Zurich. The situation escalated when the two met at a party and needed to be separated to avoid a physical altercation.
Ultimately, Khan decided to pursue other employment options and joined Credit Suisse’s cross-town rival, UBS. While on garden leave, he was followed by investigators hired by Credit Suisse. Thiam denied any knowledge of this happening. His protests appeared weak when the former head of human resources, Peter Goerke, similarly claimed to have been followed as well.