(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG’s internal inquiry into how it lost about $5.5 billion on the collapse of Archegos Capital Management paints a picture of severe failures in due diligence as employees chased business that made little economic sense, according to people briefed on the findings.
The bank failed to gauge tens of billions of dollars in exposure that piled up while handling trades for Bill Hwang’s family office that generated relatively little or no revenue, the people said, asking not to be identified because the conclusions aren’t yet public. Credit Suisse will probably post a report on its findings Thursday. Despite the document’s withering assessment of how the lender got burned when Archegos collapsed this year, it doesn’t allege criminality inside the Swiss bank, the people said.
A spokesperson for Credit Suisse declined to comment.
Credit Suisse’s prime brokerage suffered steeper losses than any competitor when Archegos’s massive, leveraged bets on a relatively small collection of companies soured early this year, ultimately pushing the Zurich-based lender to cut its dividend, pause share buybacks and raise capital. The bank had allowed the family office to leverage the stock bets up to 10 times, and only asked for collateral worth 10% of the sums borrowed, a person familiar earlier said.
New Chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio pledged a thorough review and hinted that it would be wide-ranging, calling Archegos and the Greensill Capital scandal that preceded it worse than anything he’d lived through over three-and-a-half decades working at banks.
Already, the Archegos debacle has prompted the exit of senior executives including investment banking head Brian Chin and risk and compliance head Lara Warner. While Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein was spared, he’s since struggled to retain many of the firm’s top investment bankers, who have left over concerns that the scandals will dent their business and pay.
Since Archegos, the bank has been paring risk, including downsizing the prime brokerage business by a third and cutting ties with clients, such as hedge funds, that are deemed high risk. The bank has decided it will focus on customers that use the firm for more than just prime services.
Only Japan’s Nomura Holdings Inc. came anywhere close to sustaining the same level of damage as Credit Suisse, losing almost $3 billion.
But the hit to Credit Suisse was all the worse because it came just weeks after the Greensill scandal. The bank was forced to liquidate $10 billion in supply chain finance funds that it ran with financier Lex Greensill, and clients of its asset management unit still don’t know the magnitude of losses to expect.
After Greensill, Gottstein replaced asset management head Eric Varvel and removed the business from direct oversight of wealth management.
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