© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria, August 25, 2020. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
ZURICH (Reuters) – A temporary nationalisation was never a realistic option for embattled Swiss lender Credit Suisse, former finance minister Ueli Maurer told Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung, defending his response to the Swiss banking crisis.
“The state would suddenly have to run a globally active bank that is dirty everywhere and involved in legal cases. How would that work?” Maurer said of an option reported to be favoured by the central bank.
Maurer has faced criticism for his hands-off handling of Credit Suisse in the lead up to the Swiss bank’s downfall and for saying in December 2022 that it simply needed to be left alone for a year or two.
Credit Suisse was taken over by UBS last June to forge a Swiss banking and wealth management giant with a $1.6 trillion balance sheet.
“There was a chance that Credit Suisse could have solved this on its own,” Maurer said of the troubled bank’s problems, adding that responsibility for a bank first lies with management, then the board of directors, the auditors, the financial regulator and the Swiss National Bank.
Maurer, who was finance minister until his retirement at the end of 2022, said it was unlikely that a bankruptcy would have occurred and that “UBS got a good deal”.
“The bank (Credit Suisse) had so much equity that it was clear there was interest from third parties,” he said.
Maurer also said he would still like Switzerland to have two large banks, but that the ultimate solution, the takeover by UBS, was the best option.
“I doubt whether it would have been better to keep Credit Suisse as an independent bank in this situation and with this history,” he said.