Credit Suisse fired two male employees in London after uncovering new evidence during an investigation into a sexual assault, the FT reports, citing a person familiar with the internal review which was completed last week. According to the report, the bank - which yesterday froze $5 billion in Russian assets - has terminated the contract of the senior banker at the center of the 2010 incident, as well as a second manager who was found to have hampered the original probe. The bank said it was not naming either man to protect the identity of the victim.
According to the report, the assault took place eight years ago when a group of staff went to a bar near Credit Suisse’s London office, "where the female banker was kissed and inappropriately touched by her senior colleague." She reported the assault to the police at the time but no action was taken on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
While the female victim eventually left the company, she said she was inspired by the #MeToo movement in January to send two letters to current chief executive Tidjane Thiam, urging him to look again at the case.
While the letters initially slipped through the cracks, Mr Thiam apologised to the woman and ordered a new investigation into the assault after the Financial Times alerted him to their existence in March.
Lara Warner, the bank’s chief compliance and regulatory officer, and her chief of staff reviewed the evidence and interviewed those involved again and determined the two men had misled investigations and withheld vital information. The bank is not naming either man to protect the identity of the victim.
Since nearly a decade had passed before appropriate action was taken, Credit Suisse has made changes to its anti-harassment policies: going forward, conduct and ethics ombudswoman Antoinette Poschung will lead all investigations into allegations of sexual assault and will escalate serious complaints directly to the executive board. The bank is also performing a global review of training practices.
To remedy its lack of action, Credit Suisse plans to make a “substantial” donation to a women’s charity after consulting with the victim.
Commenting on the assault, the FT said the event is "symptomatic of a pattern of behaviour by some financiers, which many women see as a significant cause of the gender imbalance in the senior ranks of the industry."
In a November survey of FT readers, almost 200 individuals — many of them working in finance — told of their experiences of sexual misconduct in the workplace. These ranged from cat calls as women walked across the trading floor to allegations of rape and other serious sexual assault.
There is evidence things are changing, with more women complaining about inappropriate behaviour by senior male colleagues. The FT cites the case of a former UBS employee has asked UK police to investigate an alleged sexual assault by a more senior colleague after deciding the bank had failed in its attempts to deal fairly with her case, the FT reported on Monday.