Ackermann Says CFO Suicide Hurt His Leadership of Zurich

Josef Ackermann said he resigned as Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN) chairman because accusations that he carried some responsibility for the suicide of its chief financial officer would have compromised his ability to shake up the insurer.

“The need for strategic and operative action at the group was considerable,” Ackermann, 65, told reporters at a presentation of a book on his career in Berlin today. “I hope that at Zurich the momentum I began will continue and wish the group much success.”

Ackermann, the former chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), said last month he was leaving Zurich Insurance after members of CFO Pierre Wauthier’s family accused him of bearing responsibility for the death. Ackermann, whom Wauthier named in a suicide note, said today that the death “was surprising to everyone” and “his blame of me is in no way justifiable.”

Zurich spokesman Bernd De Wall declined to comment on Ackermann’s remarks.

Ackermann said that he will also step down as deputy chairman of Siemens AG (SIE)’s supervisory board while keeping posts on other boards.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicholas Comfort in Frankfurt at ncomfort1@bloomberg.net; Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chickley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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