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Antonio Horta-Osorio: Credit Suisse chairman resigns after allegedly breaching COVID restrictions

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By Euronews with AP, AFP
António Horta-Osório in a photo supplied on May 27, 2021.
António Horta-Osório in a photo supplied on May 27, 2021.   -   Copyright  Business Wire

Credit Suisse says its chairman, Antonio Horta-Osorio, has resigned following an internal probe that reportedly turned up that he had violated quarantine rules intended to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resignation of Horta-Osorio, a British-Portuguese national who took up the job barely eight months ago, was announced shortly after midnight on Monday. It amounts to the latest upheaval at the top-drawer Swiss bank that has faced an array of recent troubles including bad bets on hedge funds and an internal spying scandal.

“I regret that a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally,” said Horta-Osorio, 57, in a statement from the bank, without elaborating.

“I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time.”

Axel Lehmann, a Swiss national and former executive at rival bank UBS who joined the Credit Suisse board in October, will take over the post as chairman.

Credit Suisse said Lehmann “succeeds Antonio Horta-Osório, who resigned following an investigation commissioned by the board.” It did not elaborate. The bank's press office did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking further details.

Online news service finews.com, citing two sources familiar with the situation, reported in late December that Horta-Osorio was being investigated for allegedly breaking quarantine.

Swiss media reported Monday that Horta-Osorio, a former CEO of Lloyds Banking Group in Britain, had violated quarantine rules, including travel to Britain in December and a trip to the Wimbledon tennis tournament over the summer.

The Swiss tabloid Blick claimed that after the emergence of the Omicron variant he had returned from England on board a private jet and did not respect Swiss quarantine rules imposed on travellers from some countries.

The paper made further allegations that he had enquired as to whether he could be freed from quarantine or whether the isolation period could be shortened, and still flew to another destination despite receiving a negative response at both cantonal and federal level.

Before these accusations surfaced, Horta-Osario had a positive reputation for having turned around the British bank Lloyds, and had promised to overhaul the risk culture at Credit Suisse.

He was elected chairman in late April 2021, after Credit Suisse had been shaken by the bankruptcy of the British bank Greensill and the collapse of the American fund Archegos.