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Credit Suisse could face disciplinary action, Swiss regulator says

Published 03/26/2023, 09:16 AM
Updated 03/26/2023, 03:56 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen in front of a branch office in Bern, Switzerland November 29, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss financial regulator FINMA said it was considering whether to take disciplinary action against Credit Suisse managers after Switzerland's second largest bank had to be rescued last week by UBS.

FINMA President Marlene Amstad told Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag it was "still open" whether new proceedings would be started, but the regulator's main focus was on "the transitional phase of integration" and "preserving financial stability".

UBS agreed to buy Credit Suisse for 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.26 billion) in stock a week ago and to assume up to 5 billion francs in losses in a merger engineered by Swiss authorities during a period of market turmoil in global banking.

Credit Suisse on Sunday declined to comment on the FINMA President's comments when asked by Reuters for a response.

Asked whether FINMA is looking into holding current Credit Suisse managers accountable for the collapse of Switzerland's second-largest bank, Amstad said it is "exploring the options".

"CS had a cultural problem that translated into a lack of responsibilities," Amstad was quoted as saying by NZZ, adding: "Numerous mistakes were made over several years".

FINMA had conducted six public "enforcement proceedings" against Credit Suisse in recent years, Amstad said.

"We have intervened and used our strongest instruments," she said of its previous moves.

Amstad also defended Switzerland's decision to write down 16 billion Swiss francs of Credit Suisse Additional Tier 1 (AT1) debt, to zero as part of the forced rescue merger.

"The AT1 instruments contractually provide that they will be fully written off in the event of a trigger event, in particular the granting of extraordinary government support," Amstad said.

"The bonds were created precisely for such situations."

In a separate interview with Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung, FINMA's CEO Urban Angehrn defended its role in dealing with Credit Suisse prior to the takeover.

"We intervened consistently in these cases, used our instruments, and they had an effect," he said. "We do not run the bank, that responsibility lies with the board of directors and the management of the bank."

Angehrn also said there are open discussions about widening FINMA's competencies, such as its ability to issue fines, which despite having "sharp instruments" it currently does not have.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chair of the Board of Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), Marlene Amstad attends a news conference on Credit Suisse after UBS takeover offer, in Bern, Switzerland, March 19, 2023. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

"We do not have a "senior managers regime", which could help with the issue of manager responsibility, and FINMA is limited in communicating cases."

($1 = 0.9199 Swiss francs)

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