Achieving success on Wall Street requires a wide mixture of skills: mastering technical subjects, such as math, economics and finance; earning and keeping the respect of others (and vice versa); and displaying good judgment. Yet apart from passing the Series 7 exam, an elementary test of securities industry rules and concepts, few other credentials are needed before a person can trade government bonds or advise on a big merger.
A clean U5 form, issued by Wall Street’s banks and brokerages, cannot be obtained, however, by undergoing schooling or passing tests.
The U5, or FINRA’s Uniform Termination Notice for Security Industry Registration, is a document that any banking or brokerage firm that a member of FINRA files when an employee departs, for whatever reason. FINRA, also called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is Wall Street’s self-regulatory organization.
Don’t be fooled by the dull title, though; the U5 is one of the most important documents on Wall Street. And negotiations to discuss them can easily become a battleground where employers and employees fight over whether an upcoming exit will be classified as a resignation or a firing — and if problematic behavior is revealed.
On the U5 form, the employer must provide the reason for termination as “voluntary,” “permitted to resign” or “discharged” (or “deceased or “other”). If the employee has been “discharged” or “permitted to resign,” the employer is supposed to fill in a “termination explanation” box with a reason. Banks or brokerages must also indicate if the exiting employee is currently subject to (or was when terminated) an investigation by a foreign or domestic governmental body or a self-regulating organization, or is undergoing an internal review related to issues of fraud, the wrongful taking of property or a violation of industry standards of conduct. Criminal felony charges (such as some cases of sexual harassment) and some misdemeanor infractions are also to be recorded.
Blaine Bortnick, a lawyer who specializes in Wall Street employment practices, said the U5 is a powerful lever for banks and brokerages to wield: Compliance officers at a prospective employer can stop the hiring of anyone with only a slight infraction — if the matter is ever recorded on a U5. “Compliance always can put the kibosh on a hire if they don’t like the U5 regardless of what the business does,” he said. “They’ve got that power these days.”
Thus, a “marked up” U5 can end a Wall Street career for most people, according to Bortnick, and bank executives have almost military-like power over their employees as a result. Indeed, in New York (where many financial companies are headquartered), the state’s supreme court has ruled that an employer’s filing of a U5 is privileged from court proceedings; an employee cannot sue a firm for defamation based on a U5.
Certainly if employers were more honest on U5 forms about the precise reasons for employees’ departures, others companies could much more easily determine if a prospective hire had been terminated for cause, such as violating a federal regulation or law, or if the departure had been involuntary but connected to a strategic shift or cost cutting. If FINRA enforced a more rigorous standard of disclosure, this might prompt some employers to make different hiring decisions. To be sure, any such change in U5 disclosure practices would also raise substantive questions about employee due process and privacy. Further reforms might address if firms are arranging hasty, informal verbal negotiations to let problematic executives leave with a “voluntary” departure (when no termination reason must be noted on the U5) before these employers conduct their own internal review or refer a case to law enforcement.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement’s fostering of a rapid cultural shift in attitudes and employment practices, a trader or banker whose U5 shows allegations of sexual harassment or the breaching of a code of conduct might have greatly diminished job prospects.
Wall Street’s history is full of examples of banks that repeatedly ignored the gross misconduct of certain individuals because they generated a lot of revenue. But an honest U5 disclosure regime might pose reputational and legal risk for FINRA member firms.
Even though one FINRA rule seems to forbid sexual harassment and abuse, a bad actor is not prevented from landing a new job at a different firm if his (or her) previous employer fails to be forthcoming on a U5 form. Rule 5240 states, “No member or person associated with a member shall . . . engage, directly, or indirectly, in any conduct that threatens, harasses, coerces, intimidates or otherwise attempts improperly to influence another member, a person associated with a member, or any other person.”
Regulators in the United Kingdom have taken an approach to this issue that might be instructive for their U.S. colleagues. U.K. officials observed that individuals who left one firm for another with little disclosure about prior conduct problems caused a good deal of mayhem; these regulators even coined a phrase for this practice: “rolling bad apples.”
In a review ordered by the Bank of England and Chancellor of the Exchequer following the global financial crisis of 2009 and the Libor-fixing scandal, regulators said banks and brokerages needed to have much more detailed information about potential “rolling bad apples.” Officials laid out their recommendations in a June 2015 Fair and Effective Markets Review. The Financial Conduct Authority now requires firms to provide or obtain a “regulatory reference” on all new managerial and executive hires, including a detailed account of any disciplinary actions taken within the past five years.
In June 2018 when Todd Richter left Barclays Capital in New York City, his new employer, Guggenheim Securities, wasted little time before issuing a press release that trumpeted the hiring of a new senior managing director for its health care investment-banking group.
Richter’s hiring was worth crowing about, since he had worked at the biggest firms on Wall Street — and at the highest levels.
Before Richter’s stint at Barclays, where he served as a vice chairman of global health care investment banking, he had been a managing director at Merrill Lynch. Prior to that he held the same title at Banc of America Securities. He spent much of his career at Morgan Stanley, where he headed health care equity research. And for 14 years Institutional Investor magazine picked him for its prestigious All-America Research Team.
During his years at Barclays, from 2015 to 2018, Richter was a so-called rainmaker who worked on some of Wall Street’s biggest deals. For instance, when Mars Inc. bought VCA for $9.1 billion in 2017, Richter’s 35-year friendship with VCA’s founder Robert Antin netted Barclays a $40.9 million advisory fee.
So why did Richter, who is now 62, leave Barclays in the middle of the following year?
What Juliet Cousins described to a reporter about her summer internship at Barclays in 2017 might hold the answer. (Her name is a pseudonym used here to protect the woman from retaliation and harassment.)
Cousins first met Richter in October 2016 when he interviewed her, then a college junior, for Barclays’ investment banking internship program for the following summer.
Interviewed at length by the Foundation for Financial Journalism in March 2019 and again this past July, Cousins described inappropriate workplace behavior by Richter including his making unwanted physical contact and comments about her appearance — as well as his initiating more overt sexual overtures and touching after her internship ended.
‘Why aren’t you cheating?’
Cousins shared what she thought were Richter’s odd questions – biased even – during her job interview: For example, Richter asked her, “Why aren’t you cheating?” Cousins asked what he meant (wondering if this was a trick question), and he replied, “You know there are ‘women’s programs’ [at Barclays] so why are you in the general recruiting [pool]?” Cousins said she interpreted this comment as a reference to something like the bank’s Women’s Initiative Network, which is designed to increase the bank’s percentage of women hires.
A Barclays spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment about Richter’s views about recruiting women to the bank.
After Cousins tried to clarify Richter’s unusual question, she recalled, Richter followed up with “You seem too weak to be doing investment banking. Why do you want to do this?” She spent 20 minutes calmly trying to convince Richter of her merits.
A few weeks later Richter called her to say she had the job and that he wanted her to work in his health care banking unit. Out of relief and happiness at getting a foot in Wall Street’s door, she shelved her concerns about the interview, she recalled.
When he was asked in June 2019 about that job interview, Richter said only that he was one of six or seven people who had interviewed Cousins.
A kiss upon arrival
In her March 2019 interview, Cousins also described what she considered to be an inappropriate interaction on her first day of work, when she stopped by Richter’s office: In front of some of her new colleagues, Richter kissed her on the cheek and told her that she looked beautiful. She thought this was an odd way for an investment banking managing director to greet a college student in the presence of other staff. “I think I knew he was single,” Cousins said. “And I just thought he was gay because why else would he do that?”
Richter, through a spokesman, late last month said that this incident did not happenand that the first he had heard of it was through a reporter and not Barclays human resources department.
Their brief encounters throughout that summer were in the same vein, she remembered: “He would walk by me in the hallway and would always compliment my outfit.” Another time, in an elevator bank, Richter told her that her “hair looked good pulled back.”
Richter was also adamant last month that he had not provided these compliments, saying, “I never remarked on her looks.”
But her summer at Barclays did not go as Cousins had hoped, she told the Foundation for Financial Journalism. She was not assigned to work in the health care banking group as Richter had suggested would happen. Instead, Cousins said she believed she had been shoehorned into another banking group (with its own group of summer interns) where she felt unwanted and unwelcome, adding that as a result she grew increasingly concerned about her prospects for a full-time job offer from Barclays.
About a week before the summer internship ended, Cousins went to see Richter for advice, and while he did not bolster her hopes for receiving a full-time job offer, he told her to stay in touch, she recalled. “Well whatever happens, here’s my cellphone number,” Cousins remembered Richter telling her. “Text me. We’ll get drinks.”
Two weeks or so after her internship ended, with no job offer from Barclays in hand, Cousins felt “really desperate,” she said, about her Wall Street employment prospects “and willing to take help from anyone.” She texted Richter during a vacation in Scotland to arrange a future meeting for job advice. Richter texted back that he also was on vacation and shared two photos with his image, claiming he was swimming on the French Riviera. He was wearing a Rolex. She commented on the watch and sent him a selfie. He noted that she was wearing an expensive Moncler parka and looked “cute/sexy,” adding, “Didn’t see you dressed at work like that.”
Shortly after the two exchanged these messages, Barclays informed Cousins that the firm did not intend to extend her a full-time offer, she said.
An elaborate dinner for a former intern
Cousins also described how later that summer the two shared drinks and dinner at a fancy Manhattan restaurant where Richter’s behavior veered into a new, overtly sexually suggestive direction that she said she did not want or encourage. Rather, when Richter asked Cousins to dine with him at Danny Meyer’s tony Union Square Cafe, she hoped he would view their meeting as “a mentor dinner” and understand that she, then only 21, wanted to enlist his connections to land a full-time job after graduation, she said.
Their Aug. 30, 2017, dinner started out innocently enough, with talk about Cousins’ family and friends, but quickly turned strange as the booze began to flow, she recalled. As Richter threw back vodka highballs, he pressed waitstaff to refill her wineglass “before I was even finished,” she said.
Richter emphasized her good fortune at having the opportunity to gain his advice, Cousins remembered. “You’re so special,” he told her. “No other intern [at Barclays] would be able to have dinner with a man like me,” adding that he had wanted to get to know her better over the summer but had held off because “it would have been inappropriate.” And he mentioned that “everyone in his [health care banking unit] had noticed how much he admired her.” Moments later Richter told her he had known during her initial interview that he had wanted to date her, and then he quickly shifted the conversation to her personal life, Cousins said. He called her “beautiful,” she recalled, and wanted to know why she did not have a boyfriend. He then asked her how many people she had slept with.
Richter, however, said late last month he never asked her about the number of men she had slept with.
Cousins remembered the questions from a much older man about her personal life had made her feel “incredibly uncomfortable” and that she gave him “a vague answer.”
In a June 2019 phone interview, Richter offered a radically different account of that dinner and the dynamic between the two of them: Richter initially offered to meet Cousins in his office, but she declined because she felt awkward about encountering former Barclays colleagues after not receiving a full-time job offer. “When we had dinner,” Richter recalled, Cousins “was not employed at [Barclays], and the whole purpose of the dinner was for me to kind of help her and give her advice.”
Richter did not remember excessive drinking at the dinner, saying only that he and Cousins had “split a bottle of wine.” Asked if they had discussed her personal life, he replied that he did not remember anything like that. “At no point did I ever think that I made her feel uncomfortable,” Richter said in the 2019 interview.
Just prior to this article’s publication, Richter was pressed again on Cousins’ allegations. While during his July 2019 phone conversation he had heavily relied on “I do not recall,” his responses in July 2020 were much clearer, flatly rejecting much of her account of his behavior, both during her internship and their dinner afterward.
‘We’re hitting another bar’
But Cousins recalled that she had found it challenging to rebuff Richter’s unwanted advances as the evening progressed. At the end of the dinner, Richter ordered an Uber. “We’re hitting another bar,” he told her. She felt confused, thinking that somehow the dinner meeting was turning into a date, but decided that being in a crowded bar with him would be safe. “He kept emphasizing how powerful he was,” she said. “So I agreed to go to the bar because it seemed like such a big opportunity to be spending time with someone so high up at the bank.”
On their way out of Union Square Cafe, however, Richter “started to touch my butt,” she recalled, adding that she ignored it and entered the Uber with him. They went to a bar at the base of the Residences at 400 Fifth Avenue, where he owned a penthouse condominium. “As we walked up the stairs to the bar, he touched my butt again,” she said. “I didn’t say anything because I was uncomfortable and scared.”
At the bar, Richter ordered two glasses of vodka for them, she recalled. When they sat down, Richter started “staring into my eyes and telling me how beautiful I looked,” Cousins said.
Asked by an interviewer why she did not bolt, Cousins replied, “I don’t know,” adding in retrospect, “I think I should have.”
Cousins also described a further incident that turned into an outright sexual invitation: She was contemplating whether to leave the bar at 400 Fifth Avenue when someone at Union Square Cafe called Richter’s cellphone to say her bag was still there. Richter suggested that they first go up to his penthouse apartment to get Henry, his dog, so they could walk together back to the restaurant. It was a ruse, she said in hindsight, designed to move her upstairs to have sex with him.
In Richter’s apartment things got tense, according to Cousins’ recollection: “He’s trying to cuddle with me,” she said. “And I just keep pacing back and forth to avoid him touching me. Then he stands up and puts his arms around me.” Added Cousins: “He was looking into my eyes saying, ‘What are you thinking?’ I said, ‘I want my bag.’ He called the restaurant and said that his girlfriend forgot her bag and we are coming to get it.”
Cousins recalled an uncomfortable Uber ride back to the restaurant: Richter kept saying she was “perfect” for him. After she retrieved her bag from the café, she told the driver to head to Grand Central, where she could take a train home. According to Cousins, Richter instead said he wanted her to stay with him. “It’s too late to take the train,” he told her. “I’d feel much more comfortable if you slept in my guest bedroom and I’ll make you coffee in the morning.” Following her reply of “Absolutely not, Grand Central!” he leaned in and kissed her, she said. She tried to dodge the kiss but could not. “And then I ran away to Grand Central,” she added.
During his 2019 interview, Richter said he did not recall any of the more explicit details of the evening shared by Cousins with the Foundation for Financial Journalism and insisted that he did not try to pressure her to have sex with him, as she alleged. “I don’t cross lines,” he said. “I would never do anything to cross a line. To touch someone — never! It’s just not my nature.”
Nevertheless, Richter continued to chase Cousins after that late summer evening, she recalled during her interview. He texted her at 6:31 a.m. the next morning, “Great time,” adding that he was hungover and working from home. He asked about her weekend plans and said he wanted to get together again when he returned from Las Vegas. She wrote back that she still needed to find a job, thinking he might help. “You’re pretty special,” Richter replied. “Knew that the first time we met.”
In early October, Richter texted her again. “Just checking in,” he wrote, according to an archive of their text exchange. “How’s life? How’s the job search? Henry and I are in SoCA enjoying some late summer sun,” he wrote. “Was just thinking about you.”
That was their last communication, according to Cousins. And even though Richter had once promised to give her a list of friends and acquaintances at other Wall Street firms, he never did, she noted.
(Richter said last month he did not know the names of recruiters at other firms, so he could not have provided them. But he had kept his word, he insisted, giving her the names of several banks that he felt would not be concerned with her lack of a full-time Barclays offer.)
Later in the fall of 2017, The New York Times and The New Yorker published groundbreaking stories about systemic sexual harassment of women in the workplace; both outlets detailed lengthy allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Other exposés carried allegations of sexual assaults by powerful men including Charlie Rose, Les Moonves and Matt Lauer. Although incidents of sexual harassment and assault have been prevalent on Wall Street for decades, the financial industry has yet to have a public reckoning over them: Wall Street’s ample profits, coupled with an unofficial code of silence, make it easy to cover up such unsavory incidents with cash settlements and ironclad nondisclosure agreements.
Cousins was determined to not let that happen with Richter, she recalled.
Weighing the decision to tell her story
In December 2017, after Cousins secured a job offer in a different industry, she reported what Richter had done to Barclays’ human resources department.
Why did she wait? Cousins said she feared that Barclays might retaliate against her and she wanted to first land a full-time job. For a little while she even thought that Richter’s behavior might be typical of Wall Street norms and was unsure that reporting it to Barclays representatives would make a difference, she later explained. And while she wrestled with whether to report Richter, Cousins happened upon a copy of Time magazine’s annual Person of the Year issue. The Dec. 7, 2017, cover story, titled “The Silence Breakers,” spotlighted a brave group of women who had taken great risks to come forward to report workplace sexual harassment and assault. Seeing that dramatic cover story prompted her to realize that no rules or laws can work if women fail to speak up.
An executive moves on
For his part, Richter shared in the 2019 interview his recollections of his last days at Barclays. In “late December” of 2017 representatives of Barclays human resources department asked to speak with him, he said. “They started asking me questions about [Cousins] and it was clear that something was amiss,” he recalled. “I was very upset.” A few days later, Richter asked for another meeting. “Look,” he said he told the human resources executives, “I take my reputation really seriously. I did not sleep with this woman. I didn’t touch this woman. But if I made her uncomfortable in any way, shape, or form, I’m sorry. I’m happy to meet with her to apologize.”
Richter remembered being instructed, “Do not reach out. Do not talk to her. Don’t do anything.” He noted that in his 39 years of working on Wall Street, “I’d never been accused of anything, any impropriety, either financial or personal.”
In January 2018 Richter was attending JPMorgan Chase’s health care conference in San Francisco when his boss, Richard Landgarten, asked him to accompany him on a walk, Richter said. Landgarten, the head of Barclays’ health care group, told him the “firm is very concerned about this situation,” referring to Cousins’ complaint.
Richter recalled that he told Landgarten, “I’ve done nothing wrong. If I made her uncomfortable, I’ll apologize. One hundred percent of my dialogue with her when she was working there in the summer was in my office, and I gave her really good advice, and I’ll stand by that.”
By then, Richter asserted, he had already decided to leave Barclays – not because of Cousins’ allegations — but because he had not gotten along with Landgarten since 2015. Landgarten had not paid him a sufficient bonus for the Mars-VCA deal and had made fun of Richter’s relationship with VCA in a group email, he claimed.
Richter offered to retire, he recalled. At the time he did not have a new full-time Wall Street job offer, although he had just started teaching at Columbia Business School. Landgarten used the alleged incident with Cousins to get rid of him, Richter claimed. “I just felt like [Barclays was] being vindictive to me, and I was happy to get out of there,” he said, adding that after some back-and-forth with the human resources department, Barclays let him resign rather than retire and, in exchange for not joining a competitor for three months, receive a portion of his unvested Barclays shares. He signed a separation agreement with Barclays in mid-March 2018.
Despite Barclays’ requiring Richter to take what Wall Street calls “garden leave” (a three-month noncompete period when an ex-employee stops working to let nonpublic confidential information grow stale), he worked with full pay and benefits on a pair of pending deals; this included, he said, advising Zoetis on its $2 billion acquisition of Abaxis. And nothing about his various interactions with Cousins was entered on his U5, according to Richter. (A U5 is a regulatory document filed within 30 days of an employee’s departure from a FINRA member firm, which notes whether the exit was voluntary or involuntary and if disciplinary or regulatory issues arose.)
[module align=”left” width=”half” type=”aside”] Learn more about what FINRA member firms must report about departing employees in “The U5 Loophole.”[/module]
Cousins recalled that a Barclays representative phoned her on March 21, 2018, with news about Richter, saying, “We took your case seriously and we took appropriate action.” When she asked a question about him, the representative replied, “Todd Richter is leaving the firm.” That was the whole conversation, according to Cousins: “I should’ve asked more questions but I didn’t,” she said. “I was really happy.”
On June 1, 2018, Richter left Barclays, and five days he later joined Guggenheim Securities. He noted that he has known its CEO, Alan Schwartz, for years. (Schwartz previously served as Bear Stearns’ final chief executive.) Richter said he is making the same amount of money as he earned at Barclays but his title is not as lofty. “It wasn’t about the money,” Richter continued, declining to provide specifics about his new compensation. “It really was just an opportunity to be at kind of a special place,” he said.
Cousins told the Foundation for Financial Journalism that when she heard about Richter’s move to Guggenheim Securities she became upset about a rumor that Barclays gave him a big bonus upon his exit. (Richter declined to discuss his Barclays compensation, other than to say he felt the firm shortchanged him.)
In a June 2019 statement provided to this reporter, Guggenheim confirmed Richter’s assertion that no alleged incident involving Cousins appeared on his U5 form: “When Guggenheim Partners hired Todd Richter, it did what it always does. It thoroughly conducted a background check and reviewed his past employment history, including reviewing the U-5 filed by his past employer with FINRA. This review produced no suggestion whatsoever of any aspect of the alleged behavior about which you inquire.”
Reaffirming that he did not remember any inappropriate or sordid details of his evening with Cousins, Richter expressed contrition: “If this woman feels this way, I feel awful,” he said. “I do! I mean, I don’t want to sound like a victim or whatever. But I’m not a bad actor. I’m not a bad guy.”
For more than a decade Amy Walker, a research analyst in London, has been waging a ceaseless battle for justice in connection with what she alleges was a sexual assault by her colleague at Credit Suisse.
Ever since Walker filed claims about her being drugged and groped at a barroom without her consent in 2010, she has fought police incompetence, years of indifference from her employer and Wall Street’s culture of silence about bad behavior.
Most of all, Walker has fought to hold Michael Shillaker, the man who groped her, accountable for his actions. (Walker is unsure, though, who drugged her.)
Shillaker, previously an influential managing director in Credit Suisse’s European equity research department, has said the groping incident happened but insisted that Walker was a willing, consensual participant, and prosecutors twice declined to take the matter to trial.
Walker, however, has vehemently disagreed with Shillaker’s version of events. In July 2018, Walker thought she had finally scored a victory; she pressed Credit Suisse to revisit its 2010 investigation, and the bank ultimately fired Shillaker. But later that year after Shillaker brought his case to a Spanish court, he won back pay and clearance to work at other banking firms.
What follows is their recounting of events, including their interactions at the bar, two police investigations as well as two prosecutorial reviews, with a focus on Walker’s attempt to obtain justice after undergoing what she considers was sexual assault.
The Foundation for Financial Journalism spoke with Walker extensively in a series of interviews, beginning in June 2018, and interviewed Shillaker at length in September 2018. Asked to expand on his responses from that interview, as well as to discuss subsequent events, Shillaker’s lawyers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain sent detailed legal letters to the Foundation for Financial Journalism that vigorously deny any suggestion that their client did anything wrong to Walker. (Shillaker did not respond to a recent email with additional questions.)
Rounding up co-workers for a good turnout at a Canary Wharf bar
Walker’s quest for justice began after an impromptu afterwork get-together with colleagues over drinks on April 16, 2010. The Friday night outing was organized by Shillaker, who was then 39 and Credit Suisse’s senior research analyst for its European steel and mining research group, for some of his colleagues in the bank’s European research department. An email Shillaker sent his colleagues to pitch the outing noted that he was putting the gathering together after his weekend flight to Madrid (so he could see his new girlfriend) was cancelled.
At 5 p.m. when Shillaker left Credit Suisse’s office at Canary Wharf in the heart of London’s financial district, he urged others to follow him to a nearby wine bar called Corney & Barrow.
Shillaker “was conscripting people all afternoon,” Walker recalled in an interview, noting that he had thrown himself into securing a good turnout, sending out emails and corralling people at their desks or in the hallway to attend.
Walker, then a 31-year-old vice president whose job was to analyze European chemical companies, is a serious, matter-of-fact South African, with a doctorate in chemical engineering. She was then relatively new to the financial industry, having joined Credit Suisse in 2007 after working for several engineering consultancies following a stint in the Netherlands at Royal Dutch Shell.
Going out for drinks after work was not ordinarily part of Walker’s routine, she said. She recalled that she half-jokingly wrote that April day to a colleague that if she decided to go, “it’s just a shameless career ‘ladder climbing’ move.”
And in case Walker had ideas about working late to avoid the gathering, at about 6 p.m. Shillaker sent a junior associate to remind her and paper industry analyst Lars Kjellberg that it was time for them to join their colleagues at the bar.
When a reporter informed Shillaker of Walker’s reservations at the time, Shillaker said only “She didn’t have to come.”
But there was another reason Walker was reluctant to go: She really disliked Michael Shillaker, she recalled. Walker, who did not report to Shillaker, said in an interview that he was a “bully,” whose frequent verbal tirades were humiliating for other analysts and support staff — and had evoked public tears from several women.
Raised in Wiltshire, a small county in the west of England, Shillaker studied accounting at the University of Southampton. He briefly worked at KPMG and Deloitte before landing a job as a junior analyst at Credit Suisse in the mid-1990s. In 2001 he joined UBS, where his career took off; by 2004 Credit Suisse had recruited him back. While Shillaker worked for UBS, he was on the 72nd floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower on Sept.11, 2001, when the first jet hit, and five minutes after he exited the building, it collapsed. “It was horrible,” he recalled in his September 2018 interview. “I cried for years.”
Shillaker was a highly regarded steel analyst; even his detractors acknowledged his proficiency. “Michael is very good at his job,” Walker said in her statement to police. “But I am afraid of him, and avoid any conversation with him. I stay off his radar.”
Orderingrounds of drinks on a Friday evening
When Walker arrived at Corney & Barrow that April 2010 evening, Shillaker encouraged her to order a drink, she recalled. After Walker chose a small glass of white wine, she kept her coat on — the better to make a quick exit, she said — and talked to a colleague while nursing her drink. She had not even finished it before Shillaker urged her to have a second one and indicated to the waiter to bring a “large” glass by holding his hands “far apart,” she remembered. She did not object.
Walker was not a regular drinker and only occasionally has a glass of wine or a gin and tonic, she said, adding that prior to the April outing she had been drunk just once in her life.
At the bar that evening Walker took a sip of the larger, second glass. “It was a different taste,” she recalled, noting that she did not know enough about wine to be discerning. She finished only about three-quarters of the second glass.
Shillaker kept encouraging Walker to take her coat off, and at first she declined because she felt embarrassed by his requests, she remembered. She eventually complied, but when she sat on her coat, her dress rode up “and showed a lot of my legs,” she said, adding that after she tried to pull it down, Shillaker and a few other male co-workers made comments. She kept quiet because “I didn’t want to appear prissy,” she said. (Throughout that Friday at work Shillaker had repeatedly commented on her formal attire for a client meeting, with remarks like “You’re looking very glamorous today,” according to Walker’s later statement to police.)
At about 8 p.m. Walker found herself alone at the bar with Shillaker since the others in their group had left and he had gone over to sit next to her, she recalled. They talked about her work performance, and “he was saying I was doing really well,” she noted. They started gossiping.
“The conversation got quite flirty,” Shillaker recalled.
Shillaker, who had been in the process of divorcing from his wife of five years, asked Walker if her partner was the only man she had been with. She recalled that she interpreted this as a question about whether her boyfriend was the only man she had slept with. Walker found herself telling Shillaker that Tristan Jakob-Hoff was indeed the only one. The two co-workers then discussed whether Shillaker was having affairs with two other women in the office. “I don’t remember feeling alarmed,” she noted about the personal nature of this conversation. (And that discussion is the last thing Walker said she clearly remembered about her time at the bar, emphasizing to a reporter she can recall only fragments of what happened afterward.)
Asked later about his conversation with Walker that was so atypical of their office discussions, Shillaker insisted, “She could have left at any point.” Shillaker recalled that he then asked if she “fancied” him and that she replied, “yes.” He later told a reporter, “It was a very happy atmosphere.”
While they were seated on the crowded outside patio of the packed Corney & Barrow, Shillaker kissed Walker with “his tongue in my mouth” and “cupped his hand” around her right breast and “was squeezing it,” she recalled. “God,” he told her, “I’d love to take you to a hotel.” His face, she said, was really close to hers, and she could smell cigarettes on his breath. Walker remembered feeling “ashamed” about what was then happening but did not recall telling Shillaker “no” or trying to leave. “I couldn’t move,” she said. “I don’t know why. I hadn’t drunk that much.”
Walker did not remember ordering a third glass of wine that she drank from. Yet she was emphatic in telling this reporter that she did not consent to Shillaker’s public petting and certainly had not been in any condition to do so.
“I would never knowingly kiss [Shillaker] or allow him to touch my body,” she told police. “I respected him as an analyst but despised him as a human being. I have never been unfaithful to Tristan nor would I want to be.”
Shillaker said in his September 2018 interview that he remembered exactly what happened when he and Walker were alone: They were sitting next to each other and talking, and when Walker returned from the bathroom, they started kissing. “Completely consensual,” he said, acknowledging he had engaged in heavy petting: touching, over her clothing, her breasts and her vaginal area. He asked Walker if she wanted to go to a hotel, and she said yes, Shillaker claimed. He later cited his question “Would you like to go to a hotel?” as evidence he had sought her consent for sex.
“What would your boyfriend say?” Shillaker recalled asking Walker. “I can do whatever I like,” he recalled her saying. Her response surprised him, he said, noting, “It was quite striking.” Shillaker conceded that his girlfriend in Madrid would not have been happy with his actions at the bar. “Morally, it was not the best thing to do,” he said.
Both Shillaker and Walker remembered that someone who walked by said, “Get a room.” (Shillaker later said that observer’s comment suggested that others perceived the petting as consensual rather than something done against Walker’s will.)
Shortly after broaching the idea of finding a hotel room, at about 9 p.m., Shillaker noticed that Walker had become “unsteady” and had “slipped on her seat” and he decided to call it a night, he remembered.
Walker recalled being back in the lobby of the Credit Suisse building sometime later that evening with a woman standing over her, as well as Jakob-Hoff.
“I have no further memory,” she told police on April 21, 2010, “until being in the shower at home, unable to stand up.”
For his part, Jakob-Hoff recalled in a 2018 interview that at about 6:45 p.m. Walker called him from the bar and “sounded perfectly sober and happy.” When she next called, at 8:42 p.m., she told him she was “so shit-faced” that she needed him to take her home, and she was slurring her words very badly, he added. At 9:30 p.m. Jakob-Hoff decided to go to Credit Suisse, and when he arrived there, he found Walker lying in the reception area across several chairs, with a plastic bag near her mouth and a red blanket covering her. “She was drifting in and out of consciousness,” he continued.
Jakob-Hoff stayed in the lobby with Walker, hoping she would sober up, he recalled. “Amy slept for some time, only waking to vomit,” he said. When Jakob-Hoff helped her to the toilet, she fell asleep in the stall and remained there for 10 minutes, until he went in and helped her walk out, he added.
Asked about Walker’s rapid deterioration of mental status that evening from being alert (while casually drinking) to passing out, Shillaker in his 2018 interview claimed she had told him after vomiting, “I should not have been drinking with Valium and Prozac.” (A later toxicology report showed only trace amounts of Valium in Walker’s system, consistent with her statement to police that she had taken the drug more than a week prior, to help her sleep. No Prozac was detected, per the toxicology report; Walker said she has never taken Prozac.)
Staggering, stumbling and struggling to recover
Walker staggered out of the building and walked home with Jakob-Hoff as no cab would stop to take them, he recalled. Hearing that Shillaker had wanted to go to a hotel room and thinking he might had been behaving like “a chancer,” Jakob-Hoff asked Walker if she believed that Shillaker had “spiked her drink” and she replied she did not think so, Jakob-Hoff added.
After Jakob-Hoff put Walker in the shower at their home, he heard a “thud” and found her on her knees, he recounted. “I can’t stand up,” she told him. He then placed her in the bathtub but, worried she might drown, he remained in the room with her, he said. Afterward she fell into a deep sleep on the sofa. Then while Jakob-Hoff prepared a bagel for her to eat, Walker mentioned to him that Shillaker had “stuck his tongue down her throat.” Jakob-Hoff was angry that Shillaker had taken “advantage of her,” he remembered, adding that Walker eventually told him that Shillaker had “touched her boobs” and placed his hands under her skirt. “Oh yes,” she told him, “his hands were all over me.” After hearing this, Jakob-Hoff felt like “someone was defiling our relationship,” he recalled.
The morning after the bar incident Jakob-Hoff again suggested to Walker that perhaps her second glass of wine had been spiked, and they started researching “date rape” drugs online. “Her behavior and symptoms,” Jakob-Hoff recalled, “appeared to be the same as [what] GHB or Rohypnol” triggers.
Convinced that one of her glasses of wine had somehow been spiked, the day after the incident, April 17, 2010, Walker sought a test at the Royal London Hospital, where staffers told her she needed to first report to police what they called “the assault” because of chain of custody issues, according to Walker. She reported the incident at the Limehouse police station, where an officer took a urine sample and swabbed her mouth but did not take a blood sample or wish to test the vomit still on her purple coat.
Shillaker sent Walker an email the morning after their bar encounter. “Hey I hope u r ok,” he wrote that Saturday. “God was really worried about u last night. Are u alive?”
The Monday after the Corney & Barrow incident, Walker went to work early and saw Shillaker exiting the elevator, she recalled. “Hey, are you alright?” he asked her.
“Yes, I’m fine,” she remembered saying, even though this was not so. Seeing Shillaker caused her to have a “panic attack,” and she realized she would not be able to continue working around him, she later recounted.
Later that same Monday he emailed her “Are you OK?,” adding, “Haven’t said a word to anyone.” She did not reply, she said.
(In a May 2010 letter to the Crown Prosecution Service, Shillaker’s attorney said Shillaker wrote that email to Walker to “allay her concerns” that he may have been telling colleagues “about what for Walker was an embarrassing episode.”)
Reporting the incident to Credit Suisse as well as the police
Early on Monday, April 20, 2010, Walker reported her version of what had happened at the bar to human resources executive Jennifer Barker and Steven East, who supervised both Walker and Shillaker and served as Credit Suisse’s Europe, Middle East and Asia equity research chief.
“She has memories of selected episodes of Mike Shillaker sexually assaulting her, but didn’t have a full recollection of the evening,” according to East’s notes of the meeting. “She said this has left her severely bruised, but she did not elaborate further to me on the nature of the sexual assault.” (Photographs snapped four days after the incident show large bruises on Walker’s knees and arms, incurred when she fell in the tub that evening.)
And the day after Walker reported the incident to Credit Suisse executives, she gave a lengthy statement to Detective Constable Karen McGarry, who also informed Walker that police need not test the vomit stains on her coat. “Have it dry-cleaned,” Walker recalled McGarry as saying.
Credit Suisse was initially supportive of Walker, she said, citing the company’s offer to let her work from home and to ensure law enforcement access to employees who were potential witnesses. “I very much appreciate all you and CS have done to help,” Walker wrote East on April 21, 2010.
That same day, East informed Shillaker that he was being suspended immediately, with pay, based on an allegation he had “sexually assaulted” a colleague. Shillaker was dumbfounded, he told a reporter. “I couldn’t relate,” he recalled. “I didn’t even know what he was talking about, because nothing from [the bar get-together] suggested to me that this could have been possibly that allegation. What have I done that’s really, really so serious and when?”
Shillaker said Credit Suisse’s security personnel escorted him out of the building and confiscated his corporate identification card. “What the hell do I do?” he remembered thinking. “This is serious, serious, serious stuff.” His divorce attorney recommended a criminal lawyer.
On April 30, 2010, McGarry arrested Shillaker and he spent time in jail. Shillaker met with McGarry on May 4 and shared his version of what had happened on April 16.
Credit Suisse’s 2010 “Disciplinary Procedures Policy” says an employee can be dismissed “without notice” not only for “assault, attempted assault or threatening behavior” but also for a host of lesser offenses: for “behaviour under the influence of drugs or alcohol which adversely affects others at the Company,” for “insulting or indecent behaviour” or for any conduct which, in “the opinion” of Credit Suisse, could “adversely affect” its reputation.
Furthermore, the company’s “Supervisor/Subordinates Relationship Policy” notes that intimate or sexual relationships between two employees in cases when one directly or indirectly oversees the other can impair the decision-making ability of the person with more rank; a managing director must report a relationship of this nature to the human resources department for a review. Credit Suisse ended up taking no further disciplinary action against Shillaker in 2010 in connection with the incident at the bar.
On May 21, 2010, a month after Walker had reported the bar incident to Credit Suisse, Shillaker was back at the bank, working in another London office of the firm. Walker recalled asking why. “We have heard his side of the story,” East and Barker told a teary Walker at a meeting, adding, “We understand there is very little chance” her case against him would be prosecuted by law enforcement — even though police were still awaiting the results of a toxicology report to determine if Walker had been drugged.
Nonetheless, on June 3, 2010, Credit Suisse human resources staffers interviewed Walker as part of a separate inquiry to examine her allegations that Shillaker had repeatedly bullied subordinates – claims she had raised when she reported his barroom behavior to the company. In addition, her colleagues Alessandro Abate and Lars Kjellberg gave statements that supported her claims about Shillaker’s bullying conduct, with Abate, a native of Italy, alleging that Shillaker had called him “a monkey” because he occasionally made mistakes when writing in English. Nicola Tate, Shillaker’s longtime administrative assistant, said, “Mike is a very demanding boss, he is loud, he shouts his demands at me.”
When a reporter asked Shillaker about the allegations that he had bullied people at work, he said that a human resources staffer told him the investigation of that matter had produced “significant conflicting evidence” and he had received a verbal warning, the bank’s mildest possible punishment, after the inquiry’s closure sometime in 2010.
In June 2010, the toxicology report ordered by London police indicated that no Rohypnol or GHB had been detected in Walker’s system. Based on the police’s recommendation following its review of the toxicology report, prosecutors decided to not charge Shillaker.
Walker recalled that while discussing the toxicology report with her, McGarry had asked, “Do you take Nytol?” with Walker replying she had likely taken some of that over-the-counter sleep aid weeks or perhaps months earlier but did not do so regularly. According to Walker, McGarry then replied, “That’s interesting; we found it in your system, and you’ve just told me you take it.” Although Walker repeatedly asserted that Nytol could not possibly have been present in her system that April 16, 2010, evening, McGarry brushed her off.
Baffled and frustrated, Walker met with McGarry’s supervisor, who declined to elaborate on the toxicology findings, beyond noting that “there were no opioids found in your system.” Walker insisted she had never taken opioids and so such a substance could not have anything to do with the Corney & Barrow incident — to no avail, she recalled.
By mid-June of 2010, Shillaker had returned to his Credit Suisse office at Canary Wharf. Walker was stunned — not just by the police’s failure to act but also by Credit Suisse’s decision to side with Shillaker, she recalled.
Shillaker shared in a June 19, 2010, email with East how “delighted” his clients and co-workers were about his return to Credit Suisse. He also expressed outrage, railing against what he perceived as his unfair treatment. “This is a horrific situation for me to be in,” Shillaker wrote. “I wake up with a black cloud over me every single day.” He compared the trauma he experienced from the assault claim to his September 11 experience. “I have had 2 major shocking events in my life,” he continued. “I was in the twin towers on 9/11. I have had false allegations made against me that led to me being suspended, arrested and my movements controlled. Both of which show a side of human nature I would never have believe existed.”
Expressing no sympathy for Walker, Shillaker concluded, “What is happening here is pure evil and I do not deserve nor ever deserved this.”
On June 24, 2010, Walker resigned from Credit Suisse to work for Morgan Stanley. Reflecting on Credit Suisse’s handling of its investigation, Walker said, “As an employee, you think you’re protected. This happens, and the guy gets a free pass. So essentially, what they said to this guy, who already thinks he writes his own checks, was ‘This is fine.’”
Although Walker left Credit Suisse, for the next decade she refused to let the matter drop — as she pursued a second police investigation in yet another bid to have Shillaker prosecuted. She also weathered a series of failed attempts to place her complete story in the British and American press.
Throughout all these events, Shillaker tried to silence Walker. On Aug. 4, 2010, she received a letter from his attorney. “Your allegations have caused our client huge personal suffering, considerable financial loss and . . . significant legal fees,” the lawyer wrote. He warned Walker not to repeat her “groundless” allegations to any “third party” and threatened legal action for “defamation” if she failed to desist.
By October 2010 after she made a public records request, Walker received a redacted version of Shillaker’s statement to the police, contained within the Crime Reporting Information System (CRIS) record, which documented all the law enforcement activities of the investigation. She recalled her shock and tears upon reading in this report that Shillaker had told police he had touched her genital area. Until that moment she had no idea that had occurred; she had remembered that at most he had touched her inner thigh. “Reading about it made me feel yet more humiliated and sick at the thought of how close I may have come to even greater harm,” she noted.
Seeking legal redress a second time
After reading the CRIS report, Walker became convinced that the lead police investigator, Detective Constable Karen McGarry, had botched key parts of the investigation, Walker recalled. And Walker was especially troubled by how Credit Suisse often knew important, highly private details of her case weeks before she did, she said. For example, Walker recalled Barker saying on May 21, 2010, “We understand it is highly unlikely [Shillaker] is going to be charged.”
After months of Walker’s complaining about how her case was handled, London Metropolitan Police agreed at a November 2010 meeting to formally re-examine its oversight of the investigation. Fortunately for Walker, she had preserved her vomit-stained purple coat in a sealed plastic bag.
A second toxicology report, released on May 16, 2011, provided an explanation for why McGarry had asked Walker about Nytol: Her vomit contained diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that is the active ingredient in Benadryl as well as some over-the-counter sleeping aids that are popular in England. Diphenhydramine, when dissolved in alcohol or other liquids, has been linked to date rape incidents.
So though Walker took some comfort from knowing that she had indeed been drugged, that was all the test could do — it could not tell her who drugged her.
(Asked about this toxicology finding, Shillaker strongly denied that he had slipped anything into Walker’s drink. “I didn’t drug her,” he said, adding that such an allegation was “completely absurd.”)
In November 2012, the London police released its review of the case, and it confirmed all of Walker’s worst fears, she said. The review indicated that since McGarry did not take Walker’s coat as evidence, her drug screening had been improper. Despite Walker’s insistence that she had been drugged and assaulted, McGarry had approached Walker’s case as a “local crime” — not a serious sexual assault; thus the case was never presented to the London police’s special sex crimes unit, the police review concluded. Furthermore, although a sedative had been detected, McGarry told the Crown Prosecution Service the “forensic report was negative,” which led prosecutors to recommend that no charges be filed.
And as a result of what McGarry referred to as her personal friendship with Credit Suisse’s London security chief Tim Rawlins, she had repeatedly shared with the bank sensitive health details about Walker, as well as confidential information from the police investigation.
Ultimately, the Metropolitan Police’s review concluded that McGarry’s errors had been so extensive, they warranted “gross misconduct” charges be brought against her, but she resigned prior to the report’s release.
At a Dec. 1, 2012, meeting, Andrew Hadik, the Crown Prosecution Service lawyer assigned to the case, told Walker he could not recommend that his team try to prosecute the case, according to her notes of the meeting. No evidence had been found that indicated that Shillaker had drugged Walker or had the opportunity to do so, Hadik said. And since police had not administered the proper tests in 2010, prosecutors could not determine when Walker had ingested the diphenhydramine. Acknowledging the lack of sufficient evidence for a prosecution, Walker nonetheless asserted she knew what had happened to her and found it “very difficult to accept that there are no consequences” for Shillaker.
Bringing the case to the press
Still infuriated by a May 2011 letter Credit Suisse had sent her — that minimized the bar incident as “in fact, a kiss” — Walker decided to contact news outlets, she recalled. The letter’s “mocking and dismissive tone, particularly the use of quotation marks around sexual assault, as if [she had] made it up” were particularly ugly, she noted.
In the letter, Credit Suisse had pointed out that Shillaker had “admitted that he had kissed” her but said Walker “was a completely willing participant and that he did not force himself upon her.” Shillaker’s view, the bank had added, was “not inconsistent” with Walker’s “account of events.” Furthermore, “in light of the fact that no one else had witnessed the incident,” Credit Suisse had stated, “it was not thought necessary” for the bank to “further investigate the incident.”
In February 2012, The Sunday Times informed Credit Suisse it was considering publishing an article with Walker’s allegations. Yet the article never ran, and Credit Suisse and Shillaker threatened to sue Walker if she continued to share her account with others. Undeterred, Walker contacted two more newspapers, but Shillaker’s attorneys succeeded in killing both pieces, she claimed.
A lengthy story about the bar incident appeared in The Independent on Sunday in October 2012 — without naming Walker, Shillaker or Credit Suisse. But the Independent removed the story from its website after Shillaker’s attorney threatened the publication, according to Shillaker. “It was a completely, completely one-sided view, full of inaccuracies,” he later recalled to a reporter.
Going straight to the CEO
On May 12, 2013, Walker received what she considered to be a crushing disappointment from the prosecutors who had examined the police review of the case. Louise Smith, a Crown Prosecution Service supervisor, wrote Walker, saying prosecutors could not take the Walker case to trial because they felt they were unable to prove that Shillaker knew his contact with her was nonconsensual. Smith added that Walker “had told . . . police that [she] did not resist or object to what he did at the time,” although she had later asserted she had not provided consent.
Walker and Jakob-Hoff kept meeting with lawyers, the Crown Prosecution Service and even a member of Parliament in a bid to press prosecutors to re-examine their conclusions. Yet when Walker learned at a 2016 meeting with a senior Crown Prosecution Service lawyer that her case file had been destroyed (despite regulations mandating the preservation of such records for as much as 10 years), her hopes that prosecutors would re-examine incident a third time had been dashed.
By January 2018 as the #MeToo movement started to gain steam, Walker was ready to try taking a different tack: She wrote directly to then-Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam, including her statement to the police, McGarry’s report, Credit Suisse’s conduct code and two long Economist articles on workplace sexual harassment. “To my knowledge,” she wrote, “Credit Suisse has still not taken any action on this matter, and [Shillaker] remains in his position as managing director at the firm you now lead.”
For two months, she heard nothing from Thiam. On March 1, 2018, he wrote back — after Patrick Jenkins, then the Financial Times’ financial editor, told the bank he was writing about the 2010 incident. Thiam apologized to Walker for not responding sooner, saying he had launched “a thorough review” of the firm’s “historic handling” of her allegations. He assured her he was treating the case with the “utmost seriousness,” adding, “If there are lessons to be learnt, I will make sure we learn them.”
Jenkins’ March 4, 2018, article mentioned that Thiam pledged to do a “thorough review” of the bank’s handling of the incident — but not one of the incident itself. The Financial Times piece did not mention Walker or Shillaker by name.
That March a Credit Suisse human resources staffer phoned Shillaker. “I’m really sorry,” he recalled being told. “Amy Walker is back.” Reflecting on how he felt about the new Credit Suisse investigation of 2018, Shillaker said, “Here we go again,” adding, “Five or six times I’ve had to prove my innocence again and again and again; my story is always the same.”
For two weeks in March 2018, Walker went round and round with Credit Suisse staffers about the ground rules for the bank’s new investigation, debating whether she could record her meetings with them, who would be permitted to attend the sessions and if a third party should arbitrate, she recalled.
On a May 3, 2018, call, when Karen Mitchell, Credit Suisse’s global head of human resources for corporate functions, asked Walker, “What does resolution look like to you?” Walker replied that she had repeatedly documented for the bank that Shillaker in 2010 had violated its stated policies — to the point where dismissal was warranted, and if the new investigation corroborated her views, she would not comprehend how he could not face consequences.
Summoned to Zurich on July 18, 2018, Shillaker told his version of the bar incident to the bank’s global head of compliance, Lara Warner, who was leading Credit Suisse’s new investigation. Warner told Shillaker the new investigation had “a few more weeks to go,” and then Thiam would make his decision, he recalled.
On Aug. 23, 2018, the Financial Times reported that two Credit Suisse bankers (unnamed in the piece) had been fired as a result of sexual assault allegations from 2010. “I was trembling,” Shillaker recalled of the moment he learned by phone about the article: He was walking the beach with his two kids in southern Spain, where he had moved after marrying his girlfriend from Madrid. “I was like, Oh my God. Is this right? I’ve been fired?”
Later that August day a Credit Suisse human resources manager emailed Shillaker: He had indeed been fired. As his then lawyer William Garnett told this reporter, Shillaker had been fired for being “involved in a situation that has had a reputational effect on the company” and for “a breach of contractual good faith between the parties.” He received no severance and never returned to his Madrid office at Credit Suisse. Garnett, an attorney at Bates Wells & Braithwaite, called Shillaker — and Walker — “victims” that September: “What Credit Suisse has done is to put itself first. When does an investment bank ever do anything but? If you want loyalty, buy a dog.”
When asked whether he saw himself as a “victim,” Shillaker replied emotionally during his own September interview, “I don’t want to use the word victim.” He added, “All I’m telling you is that time and time again I’ve had to prove my innocence. It’s gone on and on and on, and suddenly I’ve lost my job.”
Continued Shillaker, “This is a life changer.” He was now leading a frugal lifestyle, after years of making about $1 million each year, he said. “My wife and I sit down every day with spreadsheets, working out what we have to cut, what we have to sell,” he added. “I never had enough [money] so that I can just sit down and say, ‘It doesn’t matter.’”
Invited to share the degree of sympathy he felt for what Amy Walker had experienced, Shillaker responded, “I did not do anything wrong, right? So this is very, very painful for me. I have no opinion of what she thinks about this.”
Steven East, the research chief who had supervised both Shillaker and Walker, departed Credit Suisse at the same time Shillaker did.
For a short while after the departures of Shillaker and East, Credit Suisse executives might have thought they had succeeded at delivering justice and that a certain unsavory chapter of its history was closed.
In an interview on Aug. 24, 2018, Warner said that she discovered that Credit Suisse had failed to conduct a “full investigation” in 2010, largely because the police had asked the company to not to interfere. Thus bank authorities did not interview many potential witnesses. Warner also learned that Shillaker had never told Credit Suisse something he had reported to the police — that he had not only kissed Walker but had also touched, over her clothing, her breast and vaginal area.
“There was no indication in our review that anyone at the bank had the benefit of that police statement,” Warner said, adding that Credit Suisse instead relied on a summary of Shillaker’s “recollection of events” supplied by his attorney. Through the new investigation, Warner came to believe Walker’s version of events, not Shillaker’s, she said.
“There was no doubt that the degree of touching went well beyond a kiss,” Warner asserted, adding that Shillaker’s actions represented a “violation, even though it was eight years ago, of our current expectations of behavior of our employees.”
Taking strides to recognize a wrong
After firing the two executives, Credit Suisse offered to donate $100,000 to a charity of Walker’s choosing, in her name. The company also appointed an ombudsperson to handle issues of sexual harassment and abuse.
“One of the things that has struck me,” Warner said during her August 2018 interview, “is the bravery that people have in bringing these types of issues to the fore when they are in positions of lesser power, because it is not an easy thing to do.”
After her tears of joy subsided, Walker was overwhelmed with a feeling of relief, she said in September 2018, noting she had not gone a day without thinking about the Corney & Barrow incident. She had worried if true change would ever arrive at Credit Suisse, she added.
“Deep and meaningful cultural change, even if the will at the very top of the organization is there, takes a lot of time and a lot of effort,” Walker said. She had no regrets over devoting years of her life to her fight or deciding to tell her story publicly (and thus possibly jeopardizing her career), she said. Yet the man who had inappropriately touched her had kept his Credit Suisse job for eight more years, continuing to earn millions of dollars in cumulative compensation, she asserted.
“Shillaker does not seem to have acknowledged, or indeed even understood, that he is at fault here,” Walker wrote in a September 2018 email to a reporter. “No doubt that view was reinforced by the repeated failures of anyone in authority (the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, Credit Suisse) to take any action to censure him.”
Ruling in Shillaker’s favor in a Spanish court
In late 2018 Shillaker pursued a claim against Credit Suisse in a Madrid court, according to Marty Singer, his litigation counsel. Credit Suisse “admitted” that Shillaker was a “good leaver” – and that he had been dismissed from Credit Suisse “without cause,” Singer summarized in a letter to this reporter. To settle Shillaker’s litigation, Credit Suisse appears to have paid him deferred and back compensation, and his Financial Conduct Authority record shows no disciplinary infractions. (Shillaker did not respond to a request to share legal documents from his Madrid case.)
Despite Shillaker’s legal victory in Spain, his short-term job prospects might be hindered by a new set of British regulations for financial services firms that went into full effect in December 2019. The Senior Managers and Certification Regime requires any such U.K. firm that seeks to hire a new manager or executive to obtain from the person’s previous employers a detailed regulatory reference for the prior six years, including accounts of any investigations involving the employee.
Those regulations appear to have not hindered Steven East’s career much, however. In September, East joined Redburn, a small research-focused London brokerage firm, where he oversees a team of 53 analysts. And the privately held Redburn lists East as a partner. Over the past decade East has served as a key defense witness for Credit Suisse, after two of his subordinates brought high-profile lawsuits against the bank: A 2012 age discrimination suit was settled confidentially in 2013, but a 2019 gender discrimination claim, alleging bullying and harassment, remains unresolved.
The Foundation for Financial Journalism recently emailed East seeking comment on his departure from Credit Suisse and his new role at Redburn; he has not responded.
Credit Suisse did not respond to numerous requests from the Foundation for Financial Journalism for clarifications about Shillaker’s legal settlement. The bank’s Karen Mitchell, in a May 27, 2019, email to Walker, said it “acknowledged the position of Spanish law that Mr. [Shillaker] had a claim against Credit Suisse. His dismissal has not been reversed by the bank. As such, Credit Suisse has at all times remained committed to its decision to dismiss Mr. [Shillaker]. Mr. [Shillaker] no longer works for the bank.”
Walker told the Foundation for Financial Journalism she was outraged by what she perceived as Credit Suisse’s about-face: its sudden cooperation with Shillaker after the Madrid court proceedings, particularly its willingness to re-characterize the nature of his departure. When a senior officer of the bank contacted her in May 2019 to find out where she wanted its $100,000 charitable contribution to go, she replied she would not participate. Credit Suisse, Walker wrote, “remains a corporate sponsor and endorser of sexual misconduct and harassment. . . . I want your [executive officers] to understand that I am not prepared to allow Credit Suisse to use me for the purposes of its superficial and transparent PR exercises. Please refrain from any further such attempts in future.”