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Consultant Linked to Surveillance of Former Credit Suisse Executive Reported Dead


The consultant, whose identity isn’t known by The Wall Street Journal, shot himself on Tuesday, according to Zurich lawyer

Thomas Fingerhuth.

The Journal couldn’t independently verify the death or its cause late Monday night.

A representative for the Zurich police declined to comment late Monday night. Spokesmen for Credit Suisse didn’t return calls seeking comment. News of the consultant’s suicide was earlier reported by Swiss finance blog InsideParadeplatz.ch.

Mr. Fingerhuth is representing Investigo GmbH, the firm that carried out the surveillance in September on behalf of Credit Suisse. According to people familiar with the matter, Credit Suisse hired Investigo to trail a former executive,

Iqbal Khan,

because bank officials were concerned Mr. Khan might be recruiting Credit Suisse staff to his new employer,

UBS

Group AG. A spokesman for Mr. Khan last week called any such suggestion totally absurd.

Last week, Credit Suisse’s board said it would review events reported in the media around the surveillance. It is expected to make a statement on the review as soon as Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Mr. Khan is scheduled to start work at UBS, after three months’ leave from Credit Suisse. He negotiated the unusually short so-called gardening leave with Credit Suisse Chairman

Urs Rohner

without the involvement of Credit Suisse Chief Executive

Tidjane Thiam,

the Journal previously reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

On Sept. 17 in Zurich, Mr. Khan spotted an investigator following him and went to take photos of the investigator and his car, according to people familiar with the events. Mr. Khan filed a complaint with police, and Zurich prosecutors last week said “temporary arrests” had been made as part of the resulting probe. Prosecutors said they opened a criminal investigation into possible assault and threat based on Mr. Khan’s complaint.

Mr. Fingerhuth said the consultant who died was concerned about the leaks of information surrounding the surveillance and that he “took it very personally.” The lawyer added, “He was very scared that he would also be a victim of this whole scenario.”

The investigation has hung over the bank for more than a week, dealing one of the more unusual challenges Mr. Thiam has faced in his time there.

The former insurance executive took over as CEO in July 2015. The bank’s shares had stagnated for years, with some investors and regulators calling for big investment-banking cuts and a revamp of the private bank after a number of scandals.

Despite the bank’s shares losing about half their value during Mr. Thiam’s tenure so far, big shareholders have largely welcomed his restructuring moves. He quickly ramped up Credit Suisse’s focus on selling investment and trading products to ultrawealthy clients. As part of those moves, he promoted Mr. Khan, hired in 2013 as the finance chief of the wealth management arm, to run the bulk of that business internationally.

The relationship between Messrs. Thiam and Khan deteriorated noticeably over time, people who know them say. The Journal and other outlets reported in recent days about tensions between the two men, especially in the past year, stoked in part by Mr. Khan’s rising ambitions.

They flared close to home, too: In a tony neighborhood overlooking Lake Zurich, Mr. Khan and his family redeveloped a house next to Mr. Thiam’s. The two exchanged heated words at a party in January this year at Mr. Thiam’s house, after Mr. Khan raised concerns with Mr. Thiam’s girlfriend about trees on the Thiam property, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Khan later had conversations with rival banks, including smaller rival

Julius Baer Group
Ltd.

, about leaving Credit Suisse for another job, stoking perceptions inside Credit Suisse that he wanted more power or could be looking to leave, people familiar with the matter said.

Credit Suisse on July 1 said Mr. Khan would leave the bank to pursue his career elsewhere. In a statement, Mr. Thiam wished him well. In late August, UBS named him co-head of wealth management.

Investigo, a small Zurich detective firm, in a statement provided to Credit Suisse and Swiss authorities last week said the firm’s mandate was to follow Mr. Khan at a distance and take pictures of people he met with.

Write to Jenny Strasburg at jenny.strasburg@wsj.com and Margot Patrick at margot.patrick@wsj.com

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