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Swiss central bank chairman accused of insider trading

Swiss weekly claims central bank chairman Philipp Hildebrand speculated on currency transactions only weeks before policies shifted prices in his favor.

Switzerland central bank philipp hildebrand 2012 01 04Enlarge
The Zurich-based weekly newspaper Die Weltwoche has accused Swiss central bank chairman Philipp Hildebrand (above) of speculating on currency transactions just weeks before policies shifted prices in his favor. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The chairman of Switzerland’s central bank, Philipp Hildebrand, has been accused of personally speculating on currency transactions just weeks before instigating policy shifts that pushed prices in his favor, in an insider trading scandal that has rocked the Swiss banking industry, the Guardian has reported.

Swiss weekly newspaper Die Weltwoche levelled the accusations against the 48-year-old bank chief in a statement ahead of its Thursday publication, contending that previous reports which attributed responsibility for the relevant foreign exchange transactions to Hildebrand’s wife were misplaced.

According to Die Weltwoche, which is linked to the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP), Hildebrand was responsible for the buying and selling of currency which subsequently led to an investigation by the Swiss National Bank (SNB), as well as a number of other euro and dollar transactions on the foreign exchange market between March and October 2011.

The Zurich-based paper says it has obtained bank statements showing that Hildebrand purchased large amounts of U.S. dollars and then sold them at a profit after SNB policies depressed the Swiss franc’s value.

According to the Associated Press, Die Weltwoche’s deputy editor-in-chief, Philipp Gut, also claims to have a “verbal assurance” confirming Hildebrand’s involvement from an employee at Bank Sarasin, which allegedly handled the transactions.

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The case first became public on Dec. 23 when an unprompted statement issued from the SNB declaring that “rumors” of malfeasance on the part of its chairman were unfounded and that its insider trading rules had not been breached, according to the Associated Press.

Today, in an effort to counter what it labelled as “inaccurate” speculation by the media, the SNB published a redacted version of its report into the affair, the BBC reported.

The SNB’s report (available here, in German), conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, lays out a timeline of the Hildebrand family’s currency transactions, which the bank says were in line with central bank rules.

Hildrebrand is to break his silence regarding the affair at a press conference tomorrow, according to Bloomberg.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/120104/swiss-central-bank-chairman-accused-insider-trading