GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss political weekly says Swiss National Bank chief Philipp Hildebrand personally engaged in profitable currency deals previously thought to have been conducted by his wife, a claim that could increase the pressure on him to step down.
Hildebrand has yet to comment on the case, which first became public when the SNB issued an unprompted statement Dec. 23 declaring that “rumors” of wrongdoing by its 48-year-old president were unfounded and its rules against insider trading weren’t breached.
A Swiss central bank spokeswoman, Silvia Oppliger, declined to comment Wednesday on the latest report.
The Zurich-based Weltwoche weekly said it has obtained bank statements showing that Hildebrand himself bought large amounts of U.S. dollars before selling them for profit — after his central bank depressed the value of the Swiss franc.
“We have all the bank statements showing the relevant transactions, plus a verbal assurance from a bank employee confirming that it was Hildebrand personally, not his wife, who ordered the transactions,” Weltwoche’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief Philipp Gut told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Gut declined to identify the bank employee, but said he was a client adviser at Bank Sarasin. The Basel-based private bank said it has fired an IT support employee who leaked confidential information about “currency transactions by the family of the president of the Swiss National Bank.”
Gut said he didn’t known if the fired employee and the Weltwoche source were the same person.
According to Weltwoche, Hildebrand made several large dollar transactions between March and October last year.
“In March alone he bought U.S. dollars for 1.1 million Swiss francs,” the weekly said in advance of the article’s publication Thursday.
More surprisingly, the magazine claims Hildebrand also bought over half a million U.S. dollars in two transactions on Aug. 15, 2011, three weeks before the Swiss central bank that he leads set the minimum exchange rate of the euro at 1.20 francs. The surprise central bank move caused the value of the Swiss franc to instantly drop about 8 percent against other major currencies, including the dollar.
Three weeks after the SNB set the exchange rate floor on Sept. 6, Hildebrand sold his dollar holdings for a profit of 75,000 Swiss francs ($83,000), Weltwoche reported.
“It’s a classic forex speculation,” said Gut. “The only option for Mr. Hildebrand is to step down.”
The Swiss National Bank said last month that it was Hildebrand’s wife Kashya, a former currency trader who now runs an art gallery in Zurich, who bought an unspecified amount of U.S. dollars for herself and her daughter. The central bank declined to say whether she sold them for a profit, but declared that the bank’s board concluded Dec. 22 there had been no inappropriate transactions nor any abuse of privileged information.
Media commentators and lawmakers across the political spectrum have called for greater transparency from the central bank and from Hildebrand, whose unblemished image is considered crucial to the credibility of Switzerland’s small but powerful central bank.
Most central banks forbid senior officials and their relatives from engaging in personal trading where they might profit from insider knowledge about upcoming monetary policy decision. But unlike the European Central Bank, the SNB has kept its rules shrouded in secrecy. It refused Tuesday to show those rules to the AP.
Still, in an interview five years ago, Hildebrand, who was then just a member of the SNB’s board, said currency dealing was prohibited.
“We aren’t, for example, allowed to hold individual bank shares or conduct foreign exchange operations,” he told the Swiss business monthly Bilanz.
Weltwoche, which published the latest allegations against Hildebrand, is close to the nationalist Swiss People’s Party and its prominent billionaire backer, former Justice Minister Christoph Blocher.
Bank Sarasin said in a statement late Tuesday the fired IT support specialist passed details of the Hildebrands’ account to a People’s Party lawyer, who then met with Blocher.
Blocher, who has repeatedly criticized Hildebrand’s management of the central bank, said through his spokesman he had no plans to comment on the Hildebrand case.
More Related Stories
- Illinois' fracking and coal rush is a national crisis
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11