Credit Suisse flags ‘material weaknesses’ in reporting, outflows not reversed

By Noele Illien and Stefania Spezzati

ZURICH (Reuters) – Credit Suisse said in its 2022 annual report the bank has identified “material weaknesses” in internal controls over financial reporting and not yet stemmed customer outflows.

“As of December 31, 2022, the Group’s internal control over financial reporting was not effective, and for the same reasons, management has reassessed and has reached the same conclusion regarding December 31, 2021,” it said in the filing published on Tuesday.

Auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the report included an “adverse opinion” on the effectiveness of the bank’s internal controls over its reporting but its statements “present fairly, in all material respects” the financial position of the bank in 2020 through 2022.

Swiss regulator FINMA said it is clear that the bank must have appropriate control processes in place.

“When weaknesses in the controls are identified, we expect timely remediation of the control weaknesses,” it told Reuters. “We are in contact with the bank on this matter.”

The reporting weaknesses come as Credit Suisse is seeking to recover from a string of scandals that have undermined the confidence of investors and clients. Customer outflows in the fourth quarter rose to more than 110 billion Swiss francs ($120 billion).

On Tuesday the bank said “outflows (had) stabilised to much lower levels but had not yet reversed”.

Reiterating what the bank had stated in the past two sets of quarterly results, the annual report detailed how the outflows led Credit Suisse “to partially utilise liquidity buffers at the group and legal entity level” and the bank stated it “fell below certain legal entity-level regulatory requirements.”

Banks need to meet certain liquidity buffer requirements to meet potential customer demands for their cash.

When asked in an analyst call on February 9 whether the liquidity breaches had since been resolved, Chief Financial Officer Dixit Joshi replied, “yes, absolutely.”

The bank’s shares fell more than 3% before paring losses to trade down 1.55% as of 1152 GMT.

The cost of insuring against a Credit Suisse debt default rose to a record above 520 basis points, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Banks around the world have been swept up in a sell-off prompted by the collapse of two U.S. lenders last week that forced regulators to step in and guarantee deposits.

FINMA on Monday said it was seeking to identify any potential contagion risks for the country’s banks and insurers following the U.S. bank failures.

Scheduled for release last week, the annual report was delayed following a request from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which had raised questions about the bank’s past financial statements.

Credit Suisse said the SEC had called it about previous revisions to consolidated cash flow statements for 2019 and 2020.

The bank said on Tuesday it is working on a “remediation plan” and will implement “robust controls to ensure that all non-cash items are classified appropriately within the consolidated statement of cash flows”.

($1 = 0.9129 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Noele Illien and Stefania Spezzati; editing by Sonali Paul and Jason Neely)