Josef Ackermann has resigned as chairman of Zurich Insurance over the apparent suicide of its chief financial officer, Pierre Wauthier.
Ackermann – who is the former boss of Deutsche Bank – said he was standing down because Wauthier’s family believed he shared some of the blame for the suicide, something he denied.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“As a consequence, I see the possibility of a continued successful board leadership to the benefit of Zurich called into question,” he added.
A company spokeswoman did not elaborate on what allegations Ackermann was referring to with regard to Wauthier, who was 53 and leaves a wife and two children.
Since he became chairman, several top managers have left the Swiss insurer which recently posting a 27-percent fall in quarterly net profit due to natural disaster payouts, particularly in the US where it has been more exposed than its rivals.
On Tuesday, police said Wauthier – who was found dead at his home in a lakefront suburb of Zug outside Zurich on Monday – appeared to have committed suicide.
Wauthier’s death and the apparent suicide of another top Swiss executive, Swisscom boss Carsten Schloter, five weeks ago have prompted calls for greater support for boardroom high-fliers.
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