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Swiss regulator orders independent probe of Credit Suisse spying scandal

Switzerland’s market watchdog said Friday it ordered an independent investigation into Credit Suisse’s decision to spy on a star banker who jumped ship to competitor UBS.

Credit Suisse has already concluded an internal probe, resulting in the resignation in October of its chief operating officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee, who assumed full responsibility for the debacle.

Market watchdog FINMA said it was “appointing an independent auditor to investigate Credit Suisse in the context of observation activities.”

The regulator said it had already investigated the matter which “raise various compliance issues.”

The Credit Suisse probe found no indication the bank’s chief executive Tidjane Thiam was involved in the decision to have the former head of the wealth management unit, Iqbal Khan, tailed.

Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second largest bank after UBS, also said there was no evidence that Thiam was even aware of the decision before the scandal erupted on September 18.

Swiss media on that day revealed that Credit Suisse had ordered surveillance of Khan, a star banker in Swiss financial circles, over fears he was preparing to poach employees and clients and entice them to follow him to his new employer.

The revelation came after Khan confronted the private investigators tailing him, leading to a fight in the heart of Zurich. Khan pressed charges.

The FINMA said Friday that its “ongoing investigations of this matter will now be stepped up with the help of an independent auditor.”

“This investigator will clarify the relevant corporate governance questions, particularly in relation to the observation activities, the handling of information in this context and the use of electronic communications,” a statement said.

It said it would not provide further comment until the investigation was concluded, something it said would typically take several months.