Credit Suisse acknowledged “material weakness” in its financial reporting Tuesday as it scrapped bonuses for top executives in the wake of the bank’s worst annual performance since the global financial crisis.
The embattled Swiss lender also said chairman Axel Lehmann had proposed to “voluntarily waive” a share award worth 1.5 million Swiss francs ($1.6 million) for the 2022-2023 financial year, given the firm’s “poor financial performance.”
Credit Suisse (CSGKF) said in its annual report that it had found “the group’s internal control over financial reporting was not effective” because it failed to adequately identify potential risks to financial statements.
The revelations come just days after the bank delayed the publication of the annual report after an eleventh-hour query from the US Securities and Exchange Commission over cash flow statements for 2019 and 2020.
The board concluded that the “material weakness could result in misstatements of account balances or disclosures that would result in a material misstatement to the annual financial statements of Credit Suisse,” the annual report said. Credit Suisse is urgently developing a “remediation plan” to strengthen controls.
The bank’s stock fell more than 3% but recovered as European markets steadied to trade up 0.7% by 9 a.m. ET. It had fallen to a new record low Monday, as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the United States scared investors and pummeled banking stocks around the world.
Customers withdrew billions from Credit Suisse last year, contributing to the bank’s biggest annual loss since the financial crisis in 2008. The stock has plunged 67% over the past 12 months.
The health of the bank’s finances is once again under the microscope following the demise of SVB and spillover effects on global financial markets.
Despite the fallout from SVB’s collapse, Credit Suisse saw “material good inflows” Monday, according to CEO Ulrich Körner.
“So far it’s calm,” he said in an interview on Bloomberg TV Tuesday. Outflows from the bank had “significantly moderated” after customers withdrew 111 billion francs ($122 billion) in the three months to December, Körner added. The annual report painted a similar picture, saying outflows had not yet reversed by the end of last year.
Körner said the collapse of SVB was “somewhat of an isolated problem.” Credit Suisse follows “materially different and higher standards when it comes to capital funding, liquidity and so on,” he added.
Exec bonuses scrapped
In a separate compensation report, Credit Suisse said it had cut its employee bonus pool in half last year compared with 2021, setting aside 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.1 million).
Executive board members took home 32.2 million francs ($35.3 million) in fixed compensation but received no bonuses.
Once a big player on Wall Street, Credit Suisse has been hit by a series of missteps and compliance failures over the past few years that have damaged its reputation and profit, as well as cost several top executives their jobs.
In October, the lender embarked on a “radical” restructuring plan that entails cutting 9,000 full-time jobs, spinning off its investment bank and focusing on wealth management.
Körner said Tuesday the bank had the “right plan” in place and it was executing on it “at pace.”
“Nobody is pleased about the share price development…I can’t manage the share price, I can manage the execution and I do,” he added.