ZURICH (Reuters) – Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) shareholders should reject its compensation report and deny its leadership a discharge in an upcoming vote, a proxy advisor said, the latest fallout from a spying scandal that cost ex-boss Tidjane Thiam his job.
FILE PHOTO: Switzerland’s national flag flies in front of the logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Luzern, Switzerland February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
Glass Lewis’s recommendations, seen by Reuters late on Tuesday, center on former Chief Executive Thiam’s pay and concerns that investors not absolve Credit Suisse’s former chief operating officer, Pierre-Olivier Bouee, of responsibility for his role in the embarrassing affair.
The bank, which holds its annual general meeting on April 30, said it took note of the advisor’s recommendations for shareholders.
“Credit Suisse respects shareholder democracy,” Credit Suisse said in a statement.
Thiam was ousted in February, months after the scandal emerged in 2019 when former executive Iqbal Khan — who has since jumped to rival UBS AG (UBSG.S) — confronted a private detective hired by Credit Suisse who was trailing him through Zurich.
Thiam, whose overall compensation was 10.7 million Swiss francs (8.8 million pounds) in 2019, stands to get significant future payments, Glass Lewis said, concluding such a package did not adequately call him to account for leadership shortcomings and cultural lapses within the bank.
“While internal and external investigations showed no direct involvement in the observation incidents on Mr. Thiam’s part, the CEO accepted to take accountability for the events,” Glass Lewis wrote.
“Therefore … we question the board’s decision to allocate full ‘good leaver’ remuneration to Mr. Thiam.”
For ex-COO Bouee, pegged as the Credit Suisse executive who ordered the private detective agency to tail Khan out of concern he was seeking to lure employees to UBS, Glass Lewis said disclosures about his 2019 compensation were insufficient.
Moreover, the advisory concluded shareholders should refuse to discharge the board and management for their 2019 work, given Bouee was terminated from the executive committee with cause for actions during the year that fall under the auspices of the vote.
“Mr. Bouee’s actions have demonstrably led to reputational damage,” Glass Lewis wrote, adding the findings from a probe into the spying matter should lead most shareholders to conclude “that Mr. Bouee has failed to satisfactorily discharge his duties in the past fiscal year”.
($1 = 0.9605 Swiss francs)
Reporting by John Miller; editing by Jonathan Oatis