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Pierin Vincenz and the fall of the bankers

01.04.2022 – STÉPHANE HERZOG

Is the wellbeing of Switzerland related to the health of its banks? If so, there is cause for concern, as the biggest Swiss banks seem to be suffering from a mysterious malaise. This syndrome is leading to the downfall of their leaders. In 2020, Tidjane Thiam, chief executive officer of Credit Suisse, was forced to resign in the context of tailing ordered by his own company. January saw the exit of António Horta-Osório, chairman of the same bank. The banker was fired for breaches of health rules. Surely not in Switzerland! Next up was the golden boy from the canton of Grisons, Pierin Vincenz, credited for having brought the small, local bank Raiffeisen up to the ranks of “too big to fail”.

Everyone seemed keen on Pierin. The press reported with amusement on his all-expenses-paid trips to strip clubs. The man apparently trashed a hotel room during a wild night with a call girl. The world of banking always seemed so grey; in fact it’s quite rock and roll! However, the honeymoon period is well and truly over. The trial of the former CEO of Raffeisen and his accomplices began on 25 January in Zurich. Pierin Vincenz and Beat Stocker are the two main defendants. Charges include accusations of fraud for commercial gain, disloyal management, forgery and acceptance of bribes. Regardless of the ruling, the man from Grisons will not be returning to the top job.

All in all, what could this instability cost the banking establishment? No one knows. Here is one figure: since 2008, Credit Suisse has reportedly paid over 15 billion dollars to the United States in legal fees and fines alone, according to estimates cited in the newspaper, Le Temps. The moment has perhaps come for an aggiornamento, as they say in the world of banking.