Scapegoats sure are useful people to have around, especially when you’re in a bit of pickle and need a human sacrifice to get out of it. The trouble is that, often after their scapegoating, the loyalty that appeared to make a person the perfect scapegoat in the first place tends to fray.
Pierre Bouée certainly seemed to have the unflinching commitment to Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam to qualify him to take the fall for the comically botched spying operation against the firm’s outgoing wealth management chief, Iqbal Khan. Anyway, Thiam and CS Chairman Urs Rohner better hope he still does, because the burden they’re placing on Bouée is growing by the day.
Switzerland’s second-largest bank pinned the blame on former chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee, who it said hired detectives to track former HR head Peter Goerke in February…. Both resigned and Credit Suisse said on Monday that Bouee’s employment had now been terminated for cause, indicating his bonus and other potential compensation would likely be forfeited.
Even if Bouée keeps schtum, Thiam and Rohner’s story is unraveling pretty quickly. The former, following a suspiciously abbreviated investigation, insisted the trailing of Khan was a “strictly… isolated incident,” and the latter solemnly proclaimed spying on his own “not part of our toolbox.” But in addition to Goerke, CS also stands accused of having some private dicks follow an American joint-venture partner, indicating that espionage of employees is neither isolated nor outside of the bank’s toolbox. It would be one thing if Thiam was unaware of a single operation overseen by a top deputy infuriated on Thiam’s behalf by Khan’s presumptuousness vis-à-vis treelines. It’s entirely another for a man between whom and Thiam “you couldn’t get a cigarette paper” to have masterminded a vast international spying operation without the boss knowing at all. And then there’s the matter of the regulatory probe, which is likely to be a bit less restricted in its scope than the one run by the law firm Credit Suisse hired to clear its CEO’s good name.
The most recent revelations have prompted the Swiss financial markets regulator Finma to step up its investigation into Credit Suisse, according to a statement late Friday. The probe will be heightened with the help of an independent auditor, the body said, adding that the “observation activities carried out by Credit Suisse raise various compliance issues.”