GENEVA — Zurich Insurance Group will investigate whether its former chairman put "undue pressure" on the chief financial officer before his apparent suicide, the company's new acting chairman said Friday.
The acting chairman, Tom de Swaan, said the company's board will probe the relationship between Josef Ackermann, who abruptly resigned Thursday, and Chief Financial Officer Pierre Wauthier, who was found dead earlier this week.
"There's no doubt that these tragic events have cast a shadow over Zurich," de Swaan said in a conference call with investors and analysts.
De Swaan said the company was informed by authorities that Wauthier left behind a note describing his relationship with Ackermann, a former CEO of Deutsche Bank.
"We were informed that such a letter exists, and we are aware of its content. And it's correct that it relates to the relationship between Pierre Wauthier and Joe Ackermann," said de Swaan.
According to a Zurich official, who has been briefed by the company on the note but spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, Wauthier wrote that he disagreed with Ackermann over how the company did its financial reporting and was being pressured by Ackermann on how the numbers should be presented. Ackermann thought that Wauthier was playing down some negative aspects of the company's financial performance, the official said.