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'Something rotten in Switzerland': Blocher

Meritxell Mir · 9 Jan 2012, 11:01

Published: 09 Jan 2012 11:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Jan 2012 11:01 GMT+01:00

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Swiss People’s Party figurehead Christoph Blocher has accused the government of covering up the “crap” left behind by central bank president Philipp Hildebrand.

In the first Sunday edition of the Basler Zeitung, Blocher added more fuel to the fire engulfing Hildebrand as he brushed aside the Swiss National Bank (SNB) chief's claims he had not engaged in insider trading. 

Hildebrand remains under pressure after reports that his wife Kashya made a large profit on a currency deal last August, just weeks before the SNB took steps to curb the rising franc. 

Despite Hildebrand receiving the backing of the government and the SNB, the SVP strongman said “Switzerland cannot afford a president of the SNB who speculates with the financial markets”.

"If there is anybody in the country who should not make currency transactions, that is Mr. Hildebrand.”

Blocher described as “untenable” the fact that Hildebrand “as a professional influenced the financial markets and as a private citizen speculated in them.”

When asked why he passed on bank data he had obtained illegally to the Federal Council even though the move risked hurting the central bank, Blocher said the only things that could destabilize the SNB were “a president who makes currency transactions, journalists who claim [his financial moves] were not speculation, and a Federal Council that covers up this crap with a blanket.”

Blocher is also critical of a report made by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) clearing Hildebrand of any responsibility for his wife's transaction.  arguing the professional services firm was "not independent in any way."

“PwC gets big contracts from the National Bank. That's not exactly a good basis to investigate the private affairs of the president of the SNB,” he said.

Blocher said the case “has a massive state political dimension” because “the checks have failed.” He concluded: “There is something rotten in the state of Switzerland.”

In an attempt to undo the damage to its reputation, the SNB announced on Saturday that external auditors will review all financial transactions made by members of the enlarged governing board between January 1st 2009 and December 31st 2011.

“It became evident that, given the events of the past few days and developments in financial markets, as well as with a view to improving transparency, taking measures is in order,” the SNB said in a statement.

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

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