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Former Swisslife CFO accused of fraud

Published on 27/02/2009

ZURICH - A former finance chief of insurance company Swisslife Holding was charged with multiple counts of embezzlement and fraud, prosecutors in Zurich said Thursday.

Dominique Morax, who was Swisslife CFO from 1997 until 2002, is accused of manipulating the share price of Long Term Strategy AG, an investment vehicle for Swisslife executives, district attorney Peter C Giger said.

Morax rejected the accusations, which came out of an investigation that began in 2002.

"I reject as completely unjustifiable the allegation that I would have aimed at harming my employer and enriching myself wrongfully," Morax said in a statement by his lawyer.

Giger said Morax is accused of setting the price of Long Term Strategy shares too low when Swissflife executives bought them and setting the price too high when the executives sold them. The executives made excessive gains with Swisslife paying the difference.

A date for the trial is not yet set.

Giger said he ended an investigation against two other former executives of Swisslife.

Morax is accused of granting Long Term Strategy guarantees and services worth CHF 4.1 million (then about USD 2.4 million) after investing his own money in the company, the prosecutor said in a statement.

Swisslife acknowledged in 2002 that Morax and five other top managers made a CHF 11.5 million profit by investing CHF 3.8 million of their own money in Long Term Strategy. Morax’s share of the CHF 11.5 million profit was CHF 3.6 million, the company said at the time. The scandal caused the shutdown of Long Term Strategy in July 2002 and the following investigation.

Swisslife, which sells life insurance and runs pension funds, made record losses when stock exchanges crashed in 2002. The company blamed the losses on an excessive expansion strategy and errors in management, and later changed its name from Rentenanstalt.

AFP / Expatica