Zurich Suicide Aftermath Threatens Ackermann’s Legacy


Josef Ackermann tried to shake up Zurich Insurance Group. Now, allegations that he was partly responsible for the suicide of the chief financial officer are casting a shadow over his 35-year-long career.

Bloomberg News reports that Pierre Wauthier, who was found dead on August 26th at his home near Zug, Switzerland, mentioned Ackermann in a suicide note.

The Swiss native, 65, quit as chairman three days later and called the allegations 'unfounded'. Zurich Insurance, facing renewed concerns about its financial health, has since said it’s looking into whether undue pressure was placed on the CFO.

'No matter which way you cut it, the departure amounts to a personal failure', said Lutz Roehmeyer, a fund manager at Landesbank Berlin Investment, who helps oversee more than $14.5bn. 'He’ll be seen either as a bad guy who forced a person to suicide, or someone who couldn’t push through what he wanted. This will limit his job opportunities to companies that wouldn’t normally have come into question'.

As chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank, Ackermann helped transform a German-focused institution into Europe’s largest investment bank, steering the company through the global financial turmoil of 2008 and ensuing euro-region fiscal crisis.

In May 2012, he ended his 10-year career at the helm of the Frankfurt-based lender to return to his home country.

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Zurich Suicide Aftermath Threatens Ackermann’s Legacy

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