Zurich Chairman Quits Amid 'Suicide' Riddle
The chairman of Zurich Insurance has resigned over the apparent suicide of its chief financial officer.
Josef Ackermann said he wanted to avoid damaging the company's reputation as the family of Pierre Wauthier claimed he bore some responsibility for his death.
Mr Ackermann, a former CEO of Deutsche Bank, said in a statement he was quitting because he believed the undisclosed allegations levelled against him could hurt Zurich's top ranks.
His statement said: "The unexpected death of Pierre Wauthier has deeply shocked me.
"I have reasons to believe that the family is of the opinion that I should take my share of responsibility, as unfounded as any allegations might be.
"As a consequence, I see the possibility of a continued successful board leadership to the benefit of Zurich called into question.
"To avoid any damage to Zurich's reputation, I have decided to resign from all my board functions with immediate effect."
Mr Wauthier, who was 53, was found dead in his home in the wealthy lakefront community of Zug, just outside Zurich, early this week.
He would be the second top executive of a Swiss company to commit suicide in the past five weeks.
Switzerland's leading telecommunications company Swisscom said last month that its 49-year-old chief executive Carsten Schloter had taken his own life.
Mr Wauthier, who was a citizen of both the UK and France, joined Zurich 17 years ago and was appointed CFO in 2011.
Two weeks before his death the company said it was struggling to meet its performance targets - posting an 18% drop in quarterly profit.
The board's vice chairman, Tom de Swaan, is taking over as acting chairman of Zurich, which employs 60,000 staff - 11,000 in the UK.