Credit Suisse Seems To Have A Hot Summer Mess On Its Hands

An alleged incident of tipsy intern handling has seemingly led to a lot of bitter confusion about how Wall Street works.
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Photo: Getty Images.

Photo: Getty Images.

As we passive-aggressively reported a few days ago, Credit Suisse's NYC headquarters is dealing with Wall Street's first intern-related scandal of Summer 2018.

Some alleged less-than-stellar decision making by an MD in the bank's M&A group led to a female intern being either involuntarily massaged and/or an attempted face-licking. The MD has also been accused of locking another intern in an office, or maybe tackling them or maybe threatening to tackle them and also fire and/or "ruin" them. Suffice it to say that the air is thick with leaked rumors and accusations about what went down at 11 Madison Ave.

Credit Suisse has confirmed to Dealbreaker that it is aware of these allegations. Per the bank: “We launch full investigations into any matters that concern alleged inappropriate behavior. Employees are actively encouraged to come forward with any pertinent information they may have. When a full investigation is completed, decisions are made and appropriate actions are taken.”

But what makes this messy summer moment somehow even stickier is the split perception of the investigation itself. According to what we're hearing from some inside the situation, there is some anger and confusion over interns being told by a more senior female MD to tell their stories in-house and not share them outside the office until the investigation is done. That has led some to assume that the alleged groper is being protected by the bank and will get off with a slap on the wrist. Others are telling us that this is a case of trying to batten down the hatches until Credit Suisse can figure out who to fire.

What it looks like to us, if we're being sardonically honest, is that a truly stupid and inexcusable afternoon meltdown by an investment banker has led to a fritto misto of cultural issues inside an old bank suddenly full of really young people. Swiss corporate management techniques are not perfectly matched with #TimesUp, Twitter and Millennial Exceptionalism.

Basically, Credit Suisse is running a pre-#MeToo Wall Street play on a bunch of kids that have nothing but disdain for the period that came before #MeToo. A 20-year-old intern raised on social media expects immediate action when someone gropes an intern, but bulge bracket banks tend to metaphorically lock the exterior doors and make sure stories match up before they start firing people and risk years of legal headaches from both sides of the groping.

Maybe this MD did tell these kids to shut up and forget about what they saw in order to protect a colleague, and that would be bad. Maybe she told them to tell her and HR everything they saw but not to repeat it at a bar on 23rd Street after work...or to run and tell a snarky finance blog on background. That would be considerably less bad, but the nuance between the two is easily lost on a generation primed to confront shitty office behavior with public excoriation, and any attempt to muffle that outrage can now be perceived as an attempt to silence the victims.

Basically, Credit Suisse is trying to run an in-house investigation in order to deal with the age old issue of a mid-level manager drunkenly playing GrabAss with people he manages. Unfortunately for Credit Suisse, and every other bank about to go through some version of this themselves, you can't ask the #MeToo generation to respect an in-house investigation when they believe the house to be inherently toxic.

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