Widow of Zurich CFO attacks Swiss firm

Fabienne Wauthier accuses insurer of a lack of accountability in its investigation into his death

Fabienne Wauthier, widow of Zurich Insurance finance chief Pierre Wauthier reacts as she addresses the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Zurich. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Fabienne Wauthier, widow of Zurich Insurance finance chief Pierre Wauthier reacts as she addresses the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Zurich. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

 

The widow of Pierre Wauthier, Zurich Insurance’s former chief financial officer, has launched a stinging attack on the Swiss insurer over its handling of his suicide.

In an emotional appearance at the insurer’s annual meeting in Zurich, Mr Wauthier’s widow, Fabienne, as well as his mother, daughter and brother, accused Zurich of a lack of accountability in its investigation into his death.

“You stated last week that Zurich has improved,” the family said, addressing Zurich’s new chairman, Tom de Swaan.

“We sincerely wish we could believe you for the sake of the people inside your corporation. But the way you handled Pierre’s suicide is a sign that unaccountability remains part of Zurich’s corporate culture.”

Mr Wauthier took his life last August, shortly after the insurer admitted that it would struggle to meet financial targets.


Difficult relationship
He left a note in which he gave details of his difficult relationship with Zurich’s then-chairman, the former Deutsche Bank chief Josef Ackermann. Mr Ackermann subsequently resigned, but said any allegations over his behaviour were “unfounded”.

Nonetheless, Mrs Wauthier said Zurich should explain Mr Ackermann’s departure.

Following Mr Wauthier’s passing, Finma, the Swiss financial watchdog, asked the law firm, Homburger, to investigate whether or not Mr Wauthier had been put under “undue pressure” at work. In November, Zurich said the probe had found no evidence to support such claims.
– (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014)