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Swiss media call for SNB chief's resignation

Meritxell Mir · 5 Jan 2012, 11:11

Published: 05 Jan 2012 13:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Jan 2012 11:11 GMT+01:00

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Swiss newspapers believe the reputation of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has been seriously damaged by reports that the wife of bank chief Philipp Hildebrand made tens of thousands of francs in profit by speculating on an overvalued franc.

Zurich daily Tagesanzeiger criticizes the SNB’s internal regulations, calling them "too soft".

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung agrees, and characterizes the central bank’s own rules as “lax,” especially at a time when demands for compliance are rising.

The chairman of the SNB will not emerge unscathed from the affair, NZZ believes. The Zurich daily says the Hildebrands' currency transactions do not show "a great deal of tact” on the couple's behalf.

Other newspapers go further. For the Berner Zeitung, Hildebrand “should resign” because “he has lost all credibility in one fell swoop.”

His resignation is “inevitable”, says the Basler Zeitung, which asks him to step down “as quickly as possible”, since any transaction with foreign currency automatically places him in a “conflict of interests.”

In the French-language press, La Tribune de Gèneve says the scandal is a "drama for conservative Switzerland, where the cult of secrecy becomes a trap for those who would be protected by it.”

In an article published jointly, five French-language papers, including L’Express, say the Hildebrand affair “will at least have the merit of making the functioning of the SNB more transparent.”

Dailies 24 Heures and Le Temps, meanwhile, question the role of the Swiss People’s Party figurehead, Christoph Blocher, who uncovered the scandal by bringing compromising bank documents to the Federal Council.


Story continues below…

Swiss central bank chief Philipp Hildebrand is due to break his silence later on Thursday over his wife's controversial dollar purchase that has sparked a growing scandal and speculation over
insider trading.

Hildebrand, 48, will give a public statement at the Swiss National Bank in Zurich on the affair which has already seen two separate probes and a banking industry worker sacked.

It emerged last month that his wife Kashya Hildebrand profited after buying $504,000 in August, just weeks before an intervention by the SNB to halt the rise of the franc -- a move that saw the dollar rise significantly against the Swiss currency. (AFP)

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

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