Credit Suisse rescue rebuked by half of Swiss parliament

GENEVA (AP) – Switzerland’s lower house of parliament issued a searing – though symbolic – rebuke Wednesday of an emergency plan spearheaded by the executive branch to prop up embattled Credit Suisse and shepherd it into a takeover by Swiss banking rival UBS.

The National Council, through an unusual left-right alliance, voted 102 to 71 to reject government guarantees authorized last month of 100 billion Swiss francs (about $110 billion) to help keep Credit Suisse afloat and 9 billion francs to help UBS mop up any losses it may incur in the takeover.

The vote took place as part of a three-day special parliamentary session that opened Tuesday to scrutinize long-running troubles at Credit Suisse, a 167-year-old bank that was a pillar of Swiss finance, and the plan to save it from a collapse that could have had major implications for the global financial system.

The vote, above all, amounted to a rebuke of the executive branch at a time when Switzerland is gearing up for crucial legislative elections this fall.

The decision, which came after midnight, was largely symbolic because a parliamentary commission has already signed on to the rescue plan, which mostly involved guarantees through the Swiss central bank – not parliament.

Swiss authorities stepped in to orchestrate the 3 billion Swiss franc ($3.25 billion) fusion of Switzerland’s top two banks as shares of Credit Suisse sank last month and customers pulled their money out after the failure of two U.S. banks sparked concerns about the stability of the Swiss lender and the global financial system.

Earlier, Switzerland’s upper house of parliament voted to accept the takeover plan announced March 19 by Switzerland’s seven-member executive branch – known as the Federal Council, which is headed by the Swiss president – as well as the Swiss National Bank and the Swiss financial markets regulator, FINMA.

Further debate Wednesday was expected to center on ironing out differences between the two chambers of parliament.

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