Ex-Bank Coop CEO Steps Down From Swisscanto Board on Finma Ban

The chairman of Swisscanto Holding AG, an asset manager jointly owned by Switzerland’s regional banks, resigned after regulators banned him from managerial positions in an investigation of market manipulation at the bank that previously employed him.

Andreas Waespi, 53, the former chief executive officer of Bank Coop AG, also gave up his future job as CEO of Swiss regional bank Aargauische Kantonalbank, or AKB, a position he secured in June and was scheduled to assume next May.

Swiss financial regulator Finma said that starting in mid-2009 through early 2013, Bank Coop repeatedly bought its own shares to prop up their price, particularly during market-sensitive moments such as before and during earnings reports. Employees were not seeking personal gain, it said.

Waespi was “mainly responsible” for the market manipulation, Finma said, barring him from “acting in a management capacity” at any institution under its financial supervision for three years. The regulator said it has also “imposed conditions” on Bank Coop and said that the bank had taken steps to correct its conduct.

Waespi, Bank Coop’s CEO since 2005, left the lender in August for the job at AKB. “Finma’s decision is disproportional and incomprehensible,” he said in a statement sent by his lawyer Ansgar Schott.

He said he was resigning from Swisscanto and also abandoning the position at AKB while he weighs a challenge. The asset manager and the bank confirmed his resignation. Schott said Waespi has 30 days to appeal with Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court.

Takeover Talks

Waespi has been Swisscanto’s chairman since 2009, according to the asset manager. Switzerland’s 24 cantonal banks, including Zuercher Kantonalbank, all own stakes in Swisscanto, which manages 53 billion Swiss francs ($56 billion) in assets. Zuercher Kantonalbank, Switzerland’s biggest state-owned regional lender, said on Oct. 22 that it is in talks with Swisscanto about a takeover of the asset manager.

Until the election of a new president, Alois Vinzens, CEO of Graubundner Kantonalbank, will take over Waespi’s duties, Swisscanto said.

Finma has imposed 16 working bans against people in the financial industry in Switzerland since it acquired that power in 2009, the regulator said.

Switzerland’s Attorney General has not started any proceedings in connection with Finma’s findings, Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the office, said it in an e-mailed response to questions.

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