Liechtenstein Banker Shot Dead in Reported Investment Feud
A Liechtenstein banker was shot dead after a feud involving an investment fund, and police said they believe the alleged killer later committed suicide.
The 48-year-old man was shot in the underground garage of a financial institution in Balzers at 7:30 a.m. local time, the Liechtenstein police said on their website today. Neither the victim nor the institution was identified in the statement. The deceased was Juergen Frick, CEO of Bank Frick & Co. AG, according to Switzerland’s Radio 1, which cited employees of his bank.
The suspect, Juergen Hermann, fled the scene in a Smart car with Liechtenstein license plates, according to police. The authorities later said Hermann appears to have committed suicide after they found the vehicle in Ruggell, 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Balzers, with his passport and a confession.
“Service dogs were able to track the suspect to the banks of the Rhine,” police said in a statement. “Clothing belonging to the suspect was found there. Because of the circumstances and the evidence, suicide has to be assumed.”
Calls to Bank Frick were answered by a voice-mail message saying the company is closed because of “a death.” It gave no further details. A police spokesman didn’t immediately respond to telephone calls and e-mails seeking comment.
Bank Frick & Co., founded in 1998, specializes in wealth management and investment advice. The firm managed about 3.5 billion Swiss francs ($3.9 billion) of assets on behalf of clients at the end of 2012, according to its website. The company’s chairman is Mario Frick, who was prime minister of Liechtenstein from 1993 to 2001.
Bank Frick was previously partly owned by Bawag PSK Bank AG, the Austrian lender that almost collapsed because of its links with failed U.S. futures firm Refco Inc. Bawag owned 26 percent and Refco had a 4 percent holding, according to a report by the Austrian Press Agency. After Austria led a bailout of Bawag in 2006, the company sold its stake in Bank Frick, according to a paper published the following year on the European Commission’s website.
Hermann is a fund manager who has been embroiled in a dispute with the Liechtenstein government and Bank Frick for many years, according to Radio 1.
The Liechtenstein government and the country’s Financial Market Authority “illegally destroyed my investment company Hermann Finance and its funds, depriving me of my livelihood,” according to a website registered under the name Juergen Hermann of Hermann Finance AG.
He has filed lawsuits seeking recovery of 200 million Swiss francs from the government and 33 million francs from Bank Frick, according to the website. The lender “illegally enriched itself,” among other alleged crimes, it said.
A representative of Hermann’s lawyer declined to comment when reached by telephone. A call to an office telephone number listed on Hermann Finance’s website was answered by an employee of a law firm who said his company isn’t related to Hermann Finance.
Hermann had been “publicly hostile” to the country’s Financial Market Authority and some of its employees, forcing it to take security measures in consultation with the police, FMA spokesman Beat Krieger said in an e-mail today.
Liechtenstein, a country of 36,800 people wedged between Switzerland and Austria, hasn’t seen a homicide since 2011, when three people lost their lives to crime, police said in their annual report. Bank Frick is one of 17 lenders in the Alpine country, according to the Liechtenstein Banking Association.