Chairman of Zurich Insurance Group resigns after being named in financial officer's suicide note


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The Independent Online

The unexpected resignation of the chairman of Zurich Insurance Group came after he was named in a suicide note left by the firm’s financial officer last week, it has emerged.

Josef Ackermann stepped down as head of the Swiss insurance giant yesterday after finance boss Paul Wauthier was found dead at his home in the lakeside suburb of Zug, near Zurich, on Monday, leaving a wife and two children. Police have confirmed that he killed himself.

Explaining his sudden decision to quit, Mr Ackermann said Mr Wauthier’s family appeared to believe he bore some responsibility for his death, “however unfounded the allegations”. He said his future role as chairman of the business had been “called into question” as a result.Yesterday, Zurich Insurance said Mr Ackermann was named in the letter Mr Wauthier, 53, wrote before he took his own life.

“It is correct that it related to the relationship between Pierre Wauthier and Joe Ackermann,” said the acting chairman, Tom de Swaan.

Mr Wauthier’s widow, Fabienne, is said to have accused Zurich’s management of driving her husband “into a corner” and that Mr Ackermann’s “tough management style” had put him under insufferable pressure.

The Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported that, in his note, Mr Wauthier made allegations against Mr Ackermann and said he could not handle his criticism.