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Swiss central bank chief defies calls to resign

Philipp Hildebrand denies all wrongdoing and insists he will stay on as central bank chairman.

Swiss central bank chief 2012 01 05Enlarge
Philipp Hildebrand refuses to resign over the scandal surrounding his wife’s currency transactions, insisting that he “acted not only according to the rules, but also in an appropriate manner”. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Swiss National Bank (SNB) chairman Philipp Hildebrand has said he will not resign over the scandal surrounding his wife’s currency transactions, insisting he “acted not only according to the rules, but also in an appropriate manner”, Bloomberg has reported.

The 48-year-old central bank chief denied any wrongdoing at a press conference in Zurich today, and vowed to fight “with all means” accusations focused on a currency trade carried out by his wife just weeks before the SNB intervened to devalue the Swiss franc, Reuters reported.

He said he would stay on as SNB chairman as long as he retained the support of its board and of the Swiss authorities, according to the Associated Press.

More from GlobalPost: Swiss central bank chairman accused of insider trading

It is the first time the embattled banker has broken his silence regarding the controversy. According to the BBC, Hildebrand’s wife Kashya, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen and former currency trader, purchased over $500,000 on Aug. 15 2011, three weeks before the SNB introduced the first currency ceiling since the 1970s after the Swiss franc reached record levels against the euro.

Kashya Hildebrand told Swiss television on Tuesday that her investments in the U.S. dollar were due to the currency being “at a record low and almost laughably cheap”.

Much of Philipp Hildebrand’s defence rests on his claim that his wife, who now runs a Zurich art gallery, made the purchase without telling him, according to the Associated Press.

She later traded the U.S. dollars to purchase a property.

Yesterday, the SNB published a redacted version of an internal report into the affair carried out by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers, which, the central bank said, cleared Hildebrand and his family of any wrongdoing.

The same day, Swiss weekly newspaper Die Weltwoche claimed bank account statements showed that Hildebrand had himself speculated on currency transactions just weeks before instituting policies which shifted prices in his favour.

On Tuesday the Basel-based Bank Sarasin announced it had fired an employee who passed on information about Hildebrand and his family to a lawyer close to the Swiss People’s Party.

State prosecutors in Switzerland have announced a criminal investigation into the employee, Bloomberg reported.

More from GlobalPost: Ex-Goldman Sachs director indicted for insider trading

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/120105/swiss-central-bank-chief-defies-calls-resign