Christen Schnor

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HSBC banker found hanged by belt at 5-star London hotel after 'committing suicide'

By Tom Kelly for the Daily Mail
Updated: 21:49 EST, 21 December 2008
A leading City banker was found hanged in a five-star hotel in an apparent suicide, police said yesterday.

Christen Schnor, 49, was discovered by a hotel worker naked with a belt around his neck in the cupboard of his £500 a night suite.

The married father of two earned a six-figure salary as HSBC's head of insurance and also had a seat on the bank's executive committee.

A suicide note written in his native Danish was found next to his body when he was discovered last Wednesday afternoon.

Police are not treating the death as suspicious.

Mr Schnor and his wife, Marianne, rented a £390 a day four-bedroom flat in a Victorian mansion in Chelsea.

He was believed to be staying at the nearby Jumeriah Carlton Tower Hotel while building work was carried out on his flat.

Mr Schnor, a former soldier, also ran a real estate business in France with his wife and was described by friends as a man of 'independent wealth.'

He joined HSBC last year from the pensions company Winterthur Group where he had been an executive board member since 2003.

At the time HSBC chief executive Dyfrig John said his proven expertise in the insurance industry would take the bank's operations to a new level of 'excellence and performance.'

A spokesman for the bank said last night: 'Our thoughts are with his family and we will do all we can to help them at this difficult time.'

Mr Schnor worked at the HSBC building in Canary Wharf

HSBC suffered 500 job losses earlier this month, but is regarded as one of the world's strongest bank's which is best prepared for the global financial crisis.

Mr Schnor grew up in Denmark and went to school in Runsted, an exclusive suburb north of the capital Copenhagen.

He later attended the city's military academy and after graduating in 1984 spent five years in the army.

But he quit in 1989 and started a career in business with British Tyre & Rubber.

He received an MBA in international business from the Henley Management College in 1994 and went on to work in Hong Kong and Switzerland before moving to London.

But he continued to play a role in the Danish military and last year was appointed lieutenant colonel in the country's army reserve.

A colleague said: 'Christen did not seem under any pressure and was quiet man. He always appeared hard-working, diligent and very capable.'

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers were called to reports of a man found hanging in hotel room at 2.30pm on December 17.

He said: 'The 49-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

'A post mortem will take place in due course. His death is being treated as non-suspicious.'

Earlier this year Mr Schnor became embroiled in a legal row with the landlords of his rented flat after claiming he had to spend £4,500 decorating it, even though the agents had said it would be put in good decorative order when he moved in.

He also alleged that delays meant he and his wife did not get possession of the flat for a month after they signed the two-year lease.

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Top banker found hanged in hotel room
BY ROBERT DEX , PA Sunday 21 December 2008

A top  HSBC banker has been found hanged in the room of a five-star hotel, police said tonight.

Scotland Yard said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Danish-born Christen Schnor, 49, who was found at around 2.40pm on Wednesday at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge, west London.

The Mail on Sunday reported Mr Schnor, who leaves a wife and two children, was found hanging by a belt, naked in a closet in his room.

A spokesman for HSBC said: "Our thoughts are with his family and we will do all we can to help them at this difficult time."

Mr Schnor studied at Henley Management College and graduated in 1994.

He joined HSBC in June 2007 when he was appointed head of insurance with responsibilities for Europe and the Middle East.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said it had been called to reports of a man found hanging, adding: "The 49-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

"A post mortem will take place in due course. His death is being treated as non-suspicious."

Suicide banker found hanged in five-star hotel had blown a fortune on women and drugs
UPDATED: 07:58 EST, 4 January 2009

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A senior HSBC banker found hanged in a five-star London hotel is believed to have spent tens of thousands of pounds on cocaine and women in the months leading up to his death.
Christen Schnor, who was independently wealthy, had regularly gone missing from his six-figure post as he embarked on a personal journey of destruction.
Sources say Mr Schnor, who was a close friend of the Danish royal family, had been squandering large chunks of his family’s fortune.
High-flying career: Smiling HSBC executive Christen Schnor and a friend in a picture posed on Facebook
High-flying career: Smiling HSBC executive Christen Schnor and a friend in a picture posed on Facebook
A hotel worker found Danish-born Mr Schnor, 49, in his £500-a-night suite at the Jumeriah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge a fortnight ago. A suicide note written in Danish was by his side.
The millionaire father of four, who drove an Aston Martin to work, is said to have started using expensive prostitutes and cocaine after moving to London in June 2007 to take up his post.
His wife Marianne allegedly discovered that he had been siphoning their bank accounts and repeatedly tried to track down Mr Schnor at his office in Canary Wharf, but he was rarely there.
Sources say the bank thought he was off with Legionnaire’s Disease. Mr Schnor was HSBC’s head of insurance for the UK, Turkey, the Middle East and Malta – an arm of the business worth an estimated £750million in profit.
He sat on the executive committee of HSBC Bank plc, which runs the UK and European side of the global bank.
A source at HSBC said: ‘Christen was a big player at the bank. He was one of the most senior executives in Europe for HSBC and it was quite a coup to have brought him over from the Winterthur Group, where he had been an executive board member.
Tragedy: Mr Schnor on a ski trip with friend Nicole Vseticka
HSBC banker found hanged by belt at 5-star London hotel after 'committing suicide'
‘Senior management became concerned by his erratic behaviour and appearance but he claimed he was ill with Legionnaire’s Disease. This now seems doubtful. Instead, he appears to have been spending a small fortune booking prostitutes through an
escort agency and buying drugs.'
The source added: ‘He had lost almost two stone in weight and when he did turn up at work he looked a shell of the man who had first arrived at the bank. His poor wife Marianne made many attempts to find him.
‘She had discovered he had been draining their bank account and spending the money on Russian prostitutes and cocaine. The amount of money he had withdrawn had even made it difficult for her to pay the bills by the end.’
Mr Schnor’s wife and children were believed to be back home in Copenhagen at the time of his death on December 17 last year.
Marianne had spent time living with her husband and two of their children at a £390-a-day rented four-bedroom flat in Wellesley House, Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea.
But Mr Schnor told bank bosses that he had to move out of his flat due to ‘refurbishment’ work. HSBC helped relocate him to the Jumeriah Carlton Hotel, which he paid for himself. It now appears there was no work being carried out on his flat and he had just left of his own accord.

Luxury lifestyle: The Schnors owned this villa in France and were friends of Danish royalty
The bank source said: ‘What happened came as a complete shock to management. Some were aware that he was undergoing personal problems but nothing like what was happening in reality.
‘They had tried to support him as much as they could, with the bank later helping to book him the hotel where he was staying but which he paid for himself, and put his absence at work down to him meeting business contacts as he built up their insurance arm.’
Mr Schnor also told bank bosses he had been burgled just weeks before he died. But he was unable to detail what was taken and the Metropolitan Police have no record of any break-in. They are not treating his death as suspicious.
An inquest is due to take place into his apparent suicide and his funeral is expected to be held this week.
The Schnors, who also owned a seven-bedroom villa in Cannes, France, which they let for up to £10,000 a week, were close friends of the Danish royal family, especially Crown Prince Frederik, who is heir to the Danish throne.
The banker had also been one of the elite who dined with Denmark’s Queen Margrethe, 68.
Mr Schnor spent five years in the Danish army after graduating and belonged to the country’s military reserve, recently attaining the highest position of Lieutenant Colonel.
A spokesman for HSBC refused to comment about Mr Schnor’s activities, but said: ‘The bank’s thoughts are with Christen’s friends and family following their tragic loss.’

Mr. Christen Schnor, Chris, served as Head of Market Group International of AXA Versicherungen AG (formerly, Winterthur Group) since 2005 and served as its Member of Executive Board of Division Winterthur Group since March 2003. Mr. Schnor served as General Manager and Head of Insurance at HSBC Bank plc. He served as Head of Insurance - UK, Turkey, the Middle East & Malta at HSBC Holdings Plc since July 2007. He served as Chief Operating Officer of AXA Leben AG since March 1, 2004 and served as its Head of Market Group 1 since 2003. He served as Head of Market Group International and Member of Group Executive Board of AXA Leben AG. He served as Head of Market Group I - Division Winterthur Group of AXA Versicherungen AG since March 1, 2003. He served as Chief Operating Officer of AXA Versicherungen AG since March 1, 2004. Mr. Schnor worked Other Europe and Asia - Division Life & Pensions until December 31, 2002. He joined AXA Versicherungen AG in 1990 in Denmark. After holding various positions within the AXA Versicherungen AG in many locations, as Head of Winterthur Life & Pensions Market Group “Other Europe and Asia”. He was Army Officer of Denmark from 1983 to 1988, Human Resources Manager of British Tyre & Rubber, Denmark from 1988 to 1990. At AXA Versicherungen AG, he was an Assistant to Managing Director of Winterthur Forsikring, Denmark since 1990, Underwriting Director of Winterthur Forsikring, Denmark since 1994, Head of Technical Services of Personnel Lines of Europe Department, Switzerland since 1994, Key Account Manager of Winterthur International, London since 1997, Regional Chief Executive Officer of Winterthur International, Asia since 1999, Managing Director of Winterthur International of UK/SE/DK/SA since 2000, Head Market Unit of Other Europe & Asia, Winterthur Life & Pensions since 2000, Head Market Group 1 since 2003, Chief Operating Officer and Head Market Group 1, since 2004 and Assistant Vice President since 1992, Vice President since 1994, Senior Vice President since 1999, and Member of the Executive Board of Winterthur Life & Pensions since 2000. He studied College at Denmark from 1977 to 1979, Military Academy, Copenhagen from 1979 to 1984, General Staff Course in 1990 and MBA in International Business from Henley Management College, UK from 1992 to 1994. Mr. Schnor passed away in 2009.