Forex trade emails cast doubt on SNB's Hildebrand

Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:27am EST
 
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By Catherine Bosley

ZURICH (Reuters) - The supervisory council of the Swiss National Bank forced Philipp Hildebrand to step down as chairman after emails about a currency trade by his wife failed to clear him of involvement in the deal, newspapers reported on Tuesday.

Hildebrand's wife Kashya, a former hedge fund trader who now runs a Zurich art gallery, bought 400,000 Swiss francs ($418,000) worth of dollars on August 15, three weeks before her husband oversaw steps to cap the rise of the safe-haven franc. She later sold the dollars at a higher rate.

Hildebrand quit his post on Monday, saying he could not provide conclusive evidence that he had been unaware of the trade and that the intense public scrutiny over the affair was compromising his credibility.

Only last week, he resisted calls to step down, saying he only learned of his wife's trade a day after she made it.

Emails between Kashya, Hildebrand and their Sarasin bank client advisor Felix Scheuber, released by the SNB on Monday, showed the central banker had been involved in discussions on a dollar trade but left it unclear whether he had approved it.

After examining the email exchange, the SNB's advisory council indicated to Hildebrand on Saturday that his position was no longer tenable, two Swiss newspapers reported.

One member of the bank council contacted by Reuters who declined to be named did not directly confirm the report but noted that Hildebrand had failed to thank the bank council at his farewell news conference.

In a statement on Monday, the council said it accepted Hildebrand's decision to resign which it said he had taken in order to protect the institution.   Continued...