Zurich chairman resigns over CFO's apparent suicide

Josef Ackermann
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Josef Ackermann

Josef Ackermann, the chairman of Zurich Insurance Group, has resigned after indicating that he felt pressured to take part of the responsibility for the apparent suicide of Chief Financial Officer Pierre Wauthier, the firm announced on Thursday.

"The unexpected death of Pierre Wauthier has deeply shocked me. I have reasons to believe that the family is of the opinion that I should take my share of responsibility, as unfounded as any allegations might be," Ackermann said in a statement.

"As a consequence, I see the possibility of a continued successful Board leadership to the benefit of Zurich called into question. To avoid any damage to Zurich's reputation, I have decided to resign from all my Board functions with immediate effect."

(Read More: Zurich Insurance CFO Pierre Wauthier found dead)

Ackermann - who has been at the company for little more than a year - has resigned from all his functions as a Board member with immediate effect. The Vice-Chairman of the Board, Tom de Swaan, will assume the role of acting chairman

"The Board of Directors respects and has accepted Josef Ackermann's decision with deep regret and expresses its gratitude for his dedicated leadership and valuable contribution to the success of the Group," Zurich said in statement.

Zurich Insurance's chief financial officer, Pierre Wauthier, was found dead at his home Monday. The police is still investigating the exact circumstances of his death and no further details have been disclosed.

Wauthier, who had been CFO since 2011, joined the company in 1996 after holding several senior positions at JPMorgan Chase. Controller Vibhu Sharma will now serve as interim CFO.

Shares in the firm were lower by 2.77 percent as the trading session opened on Thursday morning.

By CNBC.com's Matt Clinch. Follow him on Twitter @mattclinch81