Bloomberg News

Swiss Politician Acted as ‘Postman’ for Hildebrand Data

January 07, 2012

(Adds support for Hildebrand in sixth paragraph)

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A Swiss politician at the heart of currency-trading allegations against central bank chief Philipp Hildebrand said he delivered what he thought was evidence of wrongdoing to the government, and wasn’t sure it was true.

Christoph Blocher, vice president of the Swiss People’s Party and a former justice minister, said he was told by several people that Swiss National Bank Chairman Hildebrand had made personal gains by trading foreign currencies.

“I had no proof, but the claims seemed credible to me,” Blocher said today at a news conference in Rorschach on the Swiss shore of Lake Constance. “I didn’t have any original documents. I was just a postman.”

Blocher, former head of Ems-Chemie Holding AG, last month passed leaked transaction details from an account held by the Hildebrands at Basel, Switzerland-based Bank Sarasin to the authorities. He said Hildebrand hadn’t fully explained dollar trades made by his wife, Kashya, and that lawmakers must now test his claims. Kashya Hildebrand, who previously worked at a hedge fund, runs an art gallery in Zurich.

Blocher, who first demanded Hildebrand quit following the SNB’s currency interventions in 2010, said the central banker is “no longer able to act” in that job.

Blocher’s conservative party is the only one calling for Hildebrand to go, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing lawmakers. Parties including the Social Democrats and the Green Liberals pledged support for the central banker, and the Liberals said politicians shouldn’t interfere with the SNB, the newspaper said on its website.

Criminal Complaint

Sarasin said it filed a criminal complaint against a “lone employee” in its IT support department who illegally passed on bank data to an external third party, adding the scope of the complaint could be expanded to include anyone receiving the information and using it for their own purposes.

The lender also said in an e-mailed statement that it may make a civil claim for damages and complain to the Swiss Press Council about erroneous reporting.

Hildebrand told journalists yesterday that he will stay on “as long as I have the confidence” of the SNB’s board of governors. An investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP last month found Hildebrand hadn’t broken any of the SNB’s rules.

“The investigation only tells me someone had to be cleared,” Blocher said. “I know how that works. I once was in the government too.”

--With assistance from Klaus Wille and Paul Verschuur in Zurich and Dylan Griffiths in Geneva . Editors: Paul Verschuur, Randall Hackley

To contact the reporter on this story: Leigh Baldwin in Zurich at lbaldwin3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mariajose Vera at mvera1@bloomberg.net


Race, Class, and the Future of Ferguson
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW

(enter your email)
(enter up to 5 email addresses, separated by commas)

Max 250 characters

 
blog comments powered by Disqus