Zurich insurance finance boss Pierre Wauthier found dead in 'likely suicide'

Police in Switzerland say evidence points to 53-year-old CFO having taken his own life, as insurance group's profits reported to be tumbling

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The Independent Online

The chief finance officer of global insurance giant Zurich was found dead after apparently taking his own life, police in Switzerland said.

The body of 53-year-old Pierre Wauthier, a British and French citizen, was discovered on Monday at his home in the lakeside suburb of Zug, outside the city of Zurich.

He had served in a number of roles throughout the organisation, and was appointed as its overall head of finance in 2011.

In a statement given to the Reuters news agency this afternoon, Zug police spokesman Marcel Schlatter said: “Based on the forensic institute's initial findings and evidence at his home, we can say the death of Pierre Wauthier is likely to be a suicide.”

Police added that they would not be providing any further details out of respect for Mr Wauthier’s family.

Mr Wauthier was married with two children, and after receiving a Masters degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris joined KPMG in 1982. He also spent two years at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs before joining Zurich in 1996.

Zurich issued a statement yesterday which read: “The Board of Directors, Group Executive Committee and all of our colleagues are deeply saddened and pass on our condolences to the family and relatives.”

It added that Vibhu Sharma, Group Controller, would be taking over the CFO role on an interim basis.

Though Zurich provided no further details, Reuters reported on Monday that the insurance giant had said earlier in August it would be struggling to meet a number of performance targets after posting a 27 per cent drop in second-quarter net profits.

Last year, a reassessment of loss reserves for the company’s German operation drove down net profit by $400 million after it failed to set aside enough money to cover “long tail” liabilities - claims that can be made years after policies have expired. The company was also subject to natural disaster pay-outs greater than those of its rivals due to high exposure to the US.