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Report: Former Swiss President may head cooperative banks association

Doris Leuthard, who completed a one-year term as Switzerland's president in 2017 and is acting member of the Swiss Federal Council, is mulling a move into the private sector and could head Switzerland's cooperative bank association, Raiffeisen Schweiz Genossenschaft, Aargauer Zeitung reported Feb. 20 without naming sources.

The Raiffeisen group is the central institution of all 255 savings banks in Switzerland and is the country's third-largest lender after UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG. The group outpaces the other two in terms of mortgages and is the biggest Swiss mortgage lender, with a mortgage book of CHF 169 billion.

Leuthard has no banking sector experience but that will not be a big obstacle to her potential appointment as chairman of the group, according to the report. Raiffeisen Schweiz's current chairman, Johannes Rüegg-Stürm, has a degree of organizational theory from the University of St. Gallen, Aargauer Zeitung said.

The position of Rüegg-Stürm at Raiffeisen Schweiz is on shaky ground given an ongoing investigation by the Swiss financial market watchdog Finma into alleged misconduct of the group's board. The investigation was linked to a probe against Raiffeisen Schweiz' former CEO Pierin Vincenz. He left the banking group in September 2015, and the Finma probe was launched in November 2017 as the authority suspected that Vincenz' duties at Raiffeisen Schweiz represented a conflict of interest with positions he held at other Finma-regulated entities such as Swiss insurance group Helvetia Holding AG. The investigation against Vincenz was suspended after he agreed to step down from all posts held at Finma-regulated companies and agreed not to seek a job at such organizations in the future either.

However, Finma is still looking into the board of Raiffeisen Schweiz and Rüegg-Stürm could be made to leave the company if it is discovered that some of the dubious transactions conducted by Vincenz were made with the chairman's knowledge, Aargauer Zeitung said.