Shock as Zurich Insurance head Josef Ackermann quits after finance director's death

 

Josef Ackermann, the chairman of Switzerland’s top-ranking Zurich Insurance Group and a former head of Deutsche Bank, has stepped down with immediate effect following the suspected suicide of the company’s chief financial officer.

Mr Ackermann’s resignation followed the sudden death of 53-year-old  Pierre Wauthier,  the global insurance giant’s financial chief since 2011, who had complained of from stress before his death. His body was found at his lakeside home in Zug outside Zurich on Monday. Police said he appeared to have committed suicide.

In a statement Mr Ackermann suggested Mr Wauthier’s family believed he bore some of the blame for his death. “I have reasons to believe that the family is of the opinion that I should take my share of responsibility, unfounded as the allegations may be,” he said.

He stated that he had tendered his resignation because his continued successful board leadership of the group had been “called into question”. The insurer’s board said it accepted his decision with deep regret. It announced that the company’s vice-chairman, Tom de Swaan, would replace Mr Ackermann, whose term was due to expire in 2015.

Police are still investigating the cause of Mr Wauthier’s death, which followed the suicide of another top Swiss company executive last month. German-born Carsten Schloter, the 49-year-old head of the Swiss telecommunications giant Swisscom, was found dead near his home in Freiburg in late July. He had also complained about suffering from stress.

Mr Ackermann, who left Deutsche Bank in 2012 to return to his native Switzerland said yesterday that he had been “deeply shocked” by the sudden and unexpected death of Mr Wauthier, who leaves a wife and two children. His apparent suicide appeared to have occurred at a time the Zurich Group was facing financial difficulties.

The untimely deaths of  two of Switzerland’s leading executives have prompted calls for greater support for top businessmen who show signs stress and a re-examination of the country’s highly competitive boardroom culture.

Switzerland was rocked by Mr Schloter’s suicide, which appeared to have been prompted by the break-up of his marriage in 2009, separation from his three young children, and the near permanent stress inflicted on him by his Smartphone – the device to which owed much of his business success.

In a series of candid interviews given shortly before his death, Mr Schloter explained how he found it impossible to switch off his phone and felt under constant stress: “I find it increasingly difficult to calm down and to reduce tempo,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests