THE chairman Zurich Insurance resigned yesterday days after the apparent suicide of the firm’s chief financial officer Pierre Wauthier.
Josef Ackermann said he was stepping down to ‘avoid any damage to Zurich’s reputation’.
The global insurance giant has its UK headquarters in Whiteley, and employs 60,000 people in 170 countries.
The Swiss insurer’s board said it had accepted his decision ‘with deep regret’. Vice-chairman Tom de Swaan will take his place.
In a statement Mr Ackermann said: ‘The unexpected death of Pierre Wauthier has deeply shocked me.
‘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.’
Mr Wauthier, 53, was a British and French citizen and joined the company 17 years ago. Before that, he worked for US bank JP Morgan.
This is the second recent high-profile corporate death in Switzerland, after last month’s suicide of Swisscom’s 49-year old chief executive Carsten Schloter.