Belfast Telegraph

Swiss central bank boss feels heat over dollar deal

The president of Switzerland's central bank was under growing pressure to reveal details of private currency trading deals that earned him thousands.

The family of Philipp Hildebrand earned 75,000 Swiss francs (£51,000) at a time when his bank was acting to depress the value of the Swiss franc.

The Swiss National Bank tried to quash criticism by releasing an independent auditors' report which concluded that currency deals from his private account were “delicate” but did not break internal guidelines.

It also released its previously secret guidelines for senior officials and said Hildebrand would hold a news conference today.

The publication of the documents came hours after the |Swiss political weekly Weltwoche claimed Mr Hildebrand had |personally authorised the currency deals previously thought |to have been conducted by his wife.

The bank said last month that Mr Hildebrand's wife Kashya, a former currency trader who now runs an art gallery in Zurich, bought an unspecified amount of US dollars for herself and her daughter.

The central bank did not say who authorised the sale, but said its oversight body had concluded there had been no inappropriate transactions nor any abuse of privileged information by those involved.

The PWC auditors' report cites emails indicating that |Mr Hildebrand learned of his wife's decision to purchase $504,000 (£389,000) for 400,000 francs on August 16 — a day after the transaction occurred. The audit report does not say whether it was Hildebrand or his wife who, less than two months later, sold $516,000 (£398,000) for 475,000 Swiss francs.

However, between the purchase and the sale of US currency, the Swiss National Bank increased franc liquidity and set the minimum exchange rate of the euro at 1.20 francs. The two actions helped to sharply raise the value of major currencies against the franc.

Auditors concluded that the purchase of US dollars two days before the SNB's liquidity decision was “delicate,” but since Mr Hildebrand had declared the purchase a day before he had not breached any rules.

But public outcry over the |currency deals has grown |with media commentators and politicians demanding greater transparency from the SNB and from Mr Hildebrand, whose unblemished image is considered crucial to the credibility of Switzerland's small but powerful central bank.

Belfast Telegraph