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Wife Of Switzerland's Central Banker Trading Francs Days Before A Devaluation
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Wife Of Switzerland's Central Banker Trading Francs Days Before A Devaluation

  #1 (permalink)
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Wife Of Switzerland's Central Banker Trading Francs Days Before A Devaluation

My kind of story in the Swiss papers today.

I love it when big shot central bankers get their dirty laundry made public.

Kashya, the wife of Philipp Hildebrand (head of the Swiss National Bank) sold Swiss Francs just a few days before the Swiss National Bank initiated exchange controls and devalued the Franc. The timing of the transactions was nearly perfect. The suggestion is that “pillow talk” between husband and wife lead to the trades.

Don’t expect heads to roll over this transgression. There has been a complete review by Swiss authorities and the conclusion is that there were no insider trading violations by the wife. That’s not to say that trades did not happen.
Apparently, Kashya Hildebrand bought ~$500,000 when she shorted the CHF. This relatively small transaction netted the Hildebrand family only ~$50,000 in less than one month. Being that the amount is so small, the conclusion is that nothing nefarious has taken place. From NZZ.
Therefore no central banker in the world would risk his job.
Really? Only $50k extra for the wife’s account? That’s not enough incentive? I guess so. Hubby earns CHF 862,000 ($950,00) at the SNB. (A sweet deal, Ben Bernanke takes in less than $200k)

What's fascinating about this story is how it came about. Who blew the whistle on wifey? The answer is that Kashya Hildebrand maintained an account with a (very) private bank called Sarasin. When she did the trades back in August someone at the bank alerted an opposition politician, Christoph Blocher. Blocher brought the evidence to the Swiss President, Micheline Calymy-Rey and insisted on an investigation.

The information was leaked by a bank employee? To a politician? Folks, this stuff is not supposed to happen in Switzerland. This is the land of banking secrecy. This leak is highly illegal. This affair proves one point. There is no secrecy left in Swiss banking (for residents and non-residents alike). Anyone who thinks there is, is just wrong.

It’s not possible to know the facts in this story. It’s been whitewashed. There are a number of possible scenarios. I wish I knew which one was right:


-Philipp Hildebrand never told his wife about the pending exchange controls and devaluation of the CHF.
-Kashya Hildebrand acted independently; she never informed her husband of the transactions she made with the family’s money (she also bought dollars and sold CHF for her daughter).

-Kashya Hildebrand routinely bought and sold dollars. The timing of the transactions (August 15th) was pure coincidence.

-No other employees of the SNB (or their family members) sold Swiss Francs in advance of the devaluation.

-ALL OTHERS.....
This story stinks. It’s about political intrigue, stolen information from secret banks, leaked information from Central Banks and possible insider currency trading. A nice way to kick off the New Year!


Read more: Bruce Krasting: I love a stink

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That was only a political stunt from Christoph Blocher, a former member of the Swiss Federal Council. At the beginning of the year, he started multiple attacks on Phillip Hildebrand and his currency politics. Especially Blocher tried to get Hildebrand out of his position as "highest banker of Switzerland". After some Euro purchases that resulted in massive losses (to support the Swiss currency), Blocher tried to gain again political capital... After the successful intervention to fix EURCHF to 1.20+, everybody supported the SNB decisions, because was taken seriously in the area of supporting the Swiss currency. Anyways, it is just another stupid attrack against Hildebrand from Blocher, probably he's still frustrated since he and his political camp was the big loser of the last re-elections with their right-wing, xenophobic politics... (btw. you gotta also keep in mind that Blocher is nevertheless a very smart businessman and billionaire who knows how to play the others and steer people into directions that benefit his friend and/or soley himself!)

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Bank fires employee who leaked data on currency deals by Swiss central bank chief’s w


GENEVA — An exclusive Swiss private bank said Tuesday it fired an employee who leaked confidential client information linking the wife of the Swiss National Bank president to sensitive currency deals.

Basel-based Bank Sarasin said the unnamed employee, who worked in IT support, had admitted passing the data to a lawyer who then arranged a meeting with a leading figure in the nationalist Swiss People’s Party.

“Bank Sarasin is extremely regretful about this incident and has apologized to the client for the considerable unpleasantness caused by the infringement of bank client confidentiality,” the bank said in a statement.

The leaked data has caused a political furor in Switzerland, after it reportedly showed how the wife of SNB President Philipp Hildebrand profited from the central bank’s decision last year to depress the value of the Swiss franc.
The SNB has said “rumors” of wrongdoing by Hildebrand are unfounded and its rules against insider trading weren’t breached.

Citing an unnamed informant, Zurich daily Blick reported Tuesday that Hildebrand’s wife Kashya had bought more than half a million U.S. dollars on Aug. 15, before selling them again Oct. 12 at a profit of 61,000 francs ($65,000). The figures are similar to those reported by the respected Neue Zuercher Zeitung paper.

Between those dates, on Sept. 6, the Swiss National Bank set the minimum exchange rate of the euro at 1.20 francs — a move that caused the value of the franc to instantly drop about 8 percent against other major currencies including the dollar.

The Swiss National Bank confirmed that Kashya Hildebrand, a former currency trader who now runs an art gallery in Zurich, bought an unspecified amount of U.S. dollars for herself and her daughter Aug. 15. The central bank declined to say whether she sold them for a profit, but declared that the bank’s board concluded Dec. 22 there had been no inappropriate transactions nor any abuse of privileged information.

An SNB spokeswoman declined Tuesday to provide a copy of the rules governing personal deals by senior directors of the bank. “These are internal regulations that aren’t public,” Silvia Oppliger told The Associated Press.
Media commentators and lawmakers across the political spectrum are calling for greater transparency from the bank and from Hildebrand, a dashing 48-year-old whose unblemished image is considered crucial to the credibility of Switzerland’s small but powerful central bank.

“Was the Hildebrands’ dollar deal really OK?” Blick headlined Tuesday, while lawmaker Philipp Mueller of the pro-business Free Democratic Party suggested that Hildebrand’s wife should now declare all of her currency deals over the past year.

“The federal cabinet would do well to uncover everything,” Green Party lawmaker Daniel Vischer told the DRS radio station. Susanne Leutenegger Oberholzer of the Social Democratic Party said it was unjustifiable for the SNB to keep its guidelines on insider trading secret.

Considerable media attention has also focused on the man to whom the Hildebrand’s bank details were leaked. Bank Sarasin said its former employee disclosed the documents to a lawyer with close links to the People’s Party, which was snubbed by other parties in recent parliamentary vote to determine the composition of the Cabinet.

The lawyer arranged a meeting with former Justice Minister Christoph Blocher, a leading figure in the People’s Party which took more than a quarter of the vote in last year’s general election. The billionaire businessman has repeatedly criticized Hildebrand’s management of the central bank.
Blocher has declined to comment on the case.


Bank fires employee who leaked data on currency deals by Swiss central bank chief’s wife - The Washington Post

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SNB Hildebrand’s Wife Defends Dollar Trades

Swiss central bank President Philipp Hildebrand will tomorrow break his silence on currency trading by his wife after a U-turn by officials led to the release of an internal report on the transactions and rules governing them.

Hildebrand, 48, will “comment on the last days’ events and respond to questions,” the Swiss National Bank (SNBN) said in an e- mailed statement from Zurich today, calling some media reports “partly incorrect.” It also released a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP conducted last year, saying the transactions by the president and his spouse were in line with central bank rules that were also disclosed today.

With its move, the Swiss National Bank yielded to growing pressure by local media alleging that the central banker may have used insider knowledge to his advantage. Two out of three currency transactions that were investigated more closely and conducted last year were cleared, while one dollar purchase carried out by Kashya Hildebrand without her husband’s knowledge was seen as “delicate” by investigators.

The affair cuts to the core of Swiss politics and finance. Kashya Hildebrand’s currency purchase came about three weeks before the Swiss National Bank rattled investors by imposing a ceiling on the franc for the first time in three decades. In addition, Bank Sarasin, a Basel-based private bank, said it fired an employee who passed data on the trades to Christoph Blocher, vice president of the Swiss People’s Party, who last year called on Philipp Hildebrand to resign after the SNB’s currency transactions led to a record loss.
Dollar Transactions

On Aug. 15, Kashya Hildebrand spent 400,000 francs to buy $504,000 without informing her husband first. He was only told of the transaction on the following day and instructed Bank Sarasin only to act on his orders in future, according to the report. In March, he had carried out a currency transaction worth 1.1 million francs, following a Swiss property sale.

The Bank Sarasin (BSAN) employee, who wasn’t named, worked in information technology and passed the data to a lawyer, who then arranged a meeting with Blocher on Nov. 11, the bank said.
The employee went to Zurich’s police on Jan. 1 and admitted criminal misconduct, according to the statement.
Criminal Complaint

Weltwoche magazine said that the Bank Sarasin employee has filed a criminal complaint against Hildebrand for alleged insider trading. An official for the state prosecutor in the Swiss canton of Zurich declined to comment on whether the prosecutor received a complaint.

Philipp Hildebrand was first informed about the allegations on Dec. 15, the day the central bank left the benchmark interest rate at zero and maintained its franc cap of 1.20 versus the euro. He then fully disclosed details about his own and his family’s bank accounts.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers probe was commissioned by the SNB Bank Council, the central bank’s supervisory body, who made a statement on Dec. 23, exonerating Hildebrand and his family.
Kashya Hildebrand, a former hedge fund employee, said in a statement published on Swiss Television’s 10 vor 10 program late yesterday that she purchased dollars because “it was at a record low and almost ridiculously cheap” at the time.
‘Very Surprised’

“The day after the dollar purchase, the SNB’s general counsel was informed for the sake of transparency, and there were no objections to the transaction,” she said. “That’s why I am very surprised about the current interest in the matter.”

Kashya Hildebrand was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to a Pakistani father and an American mother. At the age of four, she moved to the U.S. and later worked for hedge fund Moore Capital Management in New York, where she met her future husband, according to Tages-Anzeiger. After moving to Switzerland, Kashya Hildebrand focused on the art business, opening galleries in Zurich, New York and Geneva. The couple has one daughter and live in Zurich.

Philipp Hildebrand joined the SNB’s governing board in 2003 after being chief investment officer at Zurich-based Vontobel Group and Union Bancaire Privee in Geneva. He became SNB president in January 2010.
Billionaire entrepreneur Blocher, 71, helped to transform the Swiss People’s Party from an agrarian group to a populist anti-immigrant party. He was ousted from the Cabinet in 2007.

After the central bank amassed a record loss of $21 billion in 2010 through foreign-currency actions aimed to fight deflation and help exporters, Blocher said Hildebrand should resign, calling the moves “senseless speculation.”


SNB Hildebrand?s Wife Defends Dollar Trades - Bloomberg

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.....Swiss central banker fails to calm currency scandal

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's biggest political party on Friday piled fresh pressure on the embattled head of the country's central bank to quit over a currency trade scandal.

Swiss media said Philipp Hildebrand had failed to defuse the crisis when he pledged at a news conference on Thursday to fight accusations of wrongdoing over the controversial trade by his wife Kashya and refused to step down.
She spent 400,000 Swiss francs ($420,000) to buy dollars last August, just three weeks before the Swiss National Bank (SNB) imposed a cap on the soaring Swiss currency.

Philipp Hildebrand, a 48-year old former hedge fund executive, told reporters on Thursday he learned of the trade the following day.

The Swiss People's Party (SVP), a vocal critic of Hildebrand and the SNB's intervention in foreign exchange markets under his charge, called on Friday for a special parliamentary session to examine the case.

"It is unlawful and completely untenable that leaders of the Swiss National Bank carry out currency actions also in their private affairs. Philipp Hildebrand is no longer acceptable as chairman of the Swiss National Bank," the SVP said.
In practice it would be hard for the SVP to get a special session as they would need to secure a majority in the lower and upper houses.

Swiss tabloid paper Blick ran a picture of Hildebrand leaving an up-market restaurant in Zurich with his wife and daughter after the Thursday press conference.

Other political parties appeared satisfied with Hildebrand's performance and his promise to improve transparency at the central bank.

The government has also backed Hildebrand, who has been under intense pressure since a Bank Sarasin (:BSAN.S) employee leaked bank account details of him and his wife, showing the family bought foreign currency very close to the time the SNB capped the franc.

HOUSE RAIDED
Switzerland guards bank client confidentiality jealously and the employee is also in the firing line.
Sarasin has fired the 39-year old IT worker and police in the Swiss canton of Thurgau told Reuters on Friday that they had searched his house.

Sarasin said the former employee had worked alone and that it had filed a charge with the Zurich public prosecutor's office against him for violating bank client confidentiality and commercial secrecy.
The bank has also filed charges against third parties for inducing those actions but did not specify who the third parties were.

"The criminal charge is thus also directed against persons who induced the Bank's employee to violate bank client confidentiality and who received confidential information and exploited it for their own or other people's purposes," Sarasin said in the statement.

The Zurich public prosecutor's office has already begun investigating the breach of client confidentiality.
According to the head of the SNB bank council, the bank details were passed to lawyer Hermann Lei, who has close links to Christoph Blocher, a leading member of the SVP and Hildebrand's sharpest critic.

Lei was not immediately available for comment. He said on his website on Thursday that he was not the lawyer for the former Bank Sarasin employee.
Blocher approached the Swiss government with his concerns about the transactions at the end of last year.
Blocher on Friday denied he had ever actually seen any bank documents, although he said several different people had approached him about the transactions.

"If an employee of mine had done this they would have been sacked. If I'd done this I would have gone to prison (for insider trading)," Blocher told a news conference in Rorschach in eastern Switzerland.
Swiss media said Hildebrand had not ended the crisis with his appearance on Thursday.

"It is simply hard to understand that in the middle of the biggest currency crisis for decades, the president of the Swiss National Bank would have no idea whether his wife was speculating on currency markets," Swiss newspaper St. Galler Tagblatt wrote in an editorial.

Leading newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung called on the central bank chief to publish the email sent by his wife ordering the dollar transaction.
Hildebrand on Thursday shifted some of the focus to his wife, an economist who worked at the same hedge fund her future husband did.

"We married relatively late, and from the beginning our marriage has always been, how shall I put it. Well, let's say my wife is a strong personality," he said.
Kashya, now owner of a Zurich art gallery, was born in Pakistan and later moved to the United States. She now has dual American-Swiss citizenship.

Tagesanzeiger said in an editorial that the affair had cut Hildebrand down to size, but that he should stay in his post unless new harmful revelations emerged.

"The Swiss public and in particular politicians will now debate whether a man with this flaw should still lead the central bank. If no new facts emerge then Switzerland would do well to not lose this head," the Swiss newspaper wrote. ($1 = 0.9522 Swiss Francs)

Swiss central banker fails to calm currency scandal - Yahoo! Finance

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SNB chief to face grilling over currency scandal

(Reuters) - Embattled Swiss National Bank Chief Philipp Hildebrand faces a grilling by a parliamentary committee on Monday about a controversial currency trade made by his wife three weeks before he imposed a cap on the soaring Swiss franc.

Hildebrand has been fighting allegations of wrongdoing after an employee of the bank used by his family leaked details of the trade to the lawyer of a political adversary.

Hildebrand's wife Kashya, a former hedge fund trader who now runs a Zurich art gallery, bought 400,000 Swiss francs worth of dollars on August 15, three weeks before her husband oversaw steps to cap the rise of the franc.

Alongside the head of the SNB's bank council, Hansueli Raggenbass, Hildebrand will answer question from parliament's economic committee about the affair, which has threatened to tarnish the central bank's credibility.

Shaking off critics' demands that he stand down, Hildebrand told a news conference last week he only learned of the trade the following day, rejecting claims by the Swiss magazine Weltwoche that he had personally authorized the currency deal, which made a sizeable profit.

Swiss newspapers published extracts of emails on Sunday appearing to confirm that it was Hildebrand's wife who initiated the transaction.

"In future you are no longer authorized to carry out such currency trades, unless the request comes from me or I confirm it," Swiss papers quoted Hildebrand as saying in an email sent to his wife and her account manager on learning of the trade.

Swiss media said he was expected to present the emails to the parliamentary committee.
The scandal has raised questions about transparency at the central bank, which initially failed to publish its internal ethics codes, saying auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) had investigated the trade and found there had been no misuse of privileged information.

Responding to criticism that its regulations were too lax, the SNB said on Saturday it would overhaul its internal rules and examine all transactions made by board members over the past three years.

A former chief economist at the SNB said the rules must also apply to close relatives of board members. "If I were in Mr Hildebrand's position, I would definitely not trade currencies, nor shares," Georg Rich told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

The affair cuts to the heart of Switzerland's cherished banking secrecy, which has come under attack in recent years as cash-strapped governments crack down on banks shielding the world's wealthy from the taxman.


SNB chief to face grilling over currency scandal | Reuters

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Swiss central bank chief quits over wife's currency deal

(Reuters) - Swiss National Bank Chairman Philipp Hildebrand resigned with immediate effect on Monday, saying he could not prove he had been unaware of a currency trade made by his wife and wanted to protect the integrity of the central bank.

Hildebrand's decision to relinquish one of the world's top 10 central banking jobs after just two years came as Swiss parliamentarians met to discuss the scandal, which erupted last week after Sarasin bank sacked an employee who leaked details of the trade to a political opponent of the central banker.

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 franc.

At a news conference four days ago, Hildebrand had resisted calls to step down, saying he only learned of his wife's trade the day after she made it and rejecting claims that he had personally authorized the currency deal.

But he told reporters on Monday he could not provide final evidence that he had been unaware of the trade and had decided to step down to protect the credibility of the Swiss bank, especially given the difficult economic situation.
"I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible to provide conclusive and final evidence that my wife did indeed initiate the foreign exchange transaction on the 15th August without my knowledge," he said.

"The fact is: my word is my bond. I had no knowledge of my wife's transaction on that day," he said.
Hildebrand said he had decided the pressure might compromise his ability to take tough decisions to address what he called "probably the most threatening economic and financial situation since the Second World War."
"I am sad to take this step, I loved this job, I fought like a lion for it," he said.

Christoph Moergeli, a politician from the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) which publicized details of the currency trade, welcomed Hildebrand's resignation.

"There was nothing left for him to do. It's not acceptable internationally when the head of the Swiss National bank speculates with currency," he told Reuters.

The SNB's supervisory council said in a statement Vice Chairman Thomas Jordan, who joined the SNB in 1997, would take over as chairman for the time being and the free position on the governing board would be filled as soon as possible.

The three-person board, previously made up of Hildebrand, Jordan and Jean-Pierre Danthine, reiterated its determination to stick to the cap on the franc at 1.20 per euro imposed on September 6, "with utmost determination."

Hildebrand had been due to appear before the parliamentary economics committee alongside the head of the SNB's supervisory council, Hansueli Raggenbass, who is also under pressure over the affair, which has tarnished the central bank's reputation.

"As we suggested last week his position was almost untenable and so it has proved," said Tony Nyman of Informa Global Markets. "The Swiss franc has actually gained on the news possibly due to hopes of increased integrity ahead, but also market positioning too."

The Swiss franc, which Hildebrand has fought to stop soaring on safe-haven buying driven by the euro zone debt crisis, rose on the announcement, trading up 0.1 percent at 1.2138 per euro.

"From a policy point of view there will be no change and the Swiss franc will revert to where it was before the knee-jerk reaction," said Gavin Friend, an analyst at National Australia Bank.

SNB RULES SCRUTINISED
The scandal has raised questions about transparency at the central bank, which initially failed to publish its internal ethics codes, saying auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) had investigated the trade and found there had been no misuse of privileged information.

The SNB council said on Saturday it would overhaul its internal rules concerning own trading by board members and examine all transactions they made over the past three years.

Hildebrand said the scandal had revealed weaknesses in the SNB's internal regulations, as well as its requirements in terms of transparency and code of conduct.
"The focus now should be on resolutely eliminating these weaknesses. This will allow the SNB to retain its credibility, which is its greatest asset," he said.

Christoph Darbellay, the Christian Democrat chairman of parliament's economic committee that Hildebrand had been due to address, said it would look into whether the SNB should tighten its rules.

Darbellay said the committee would also look into the breach of Switzerland's cherished banking secrecy by the whistleblower and the Swiss People's Party, which is normally a strict defender of the privacy rules.
"The breach of bank secrecy and using it for political goals, that was grave," he said.

The former Bank Sarasin employee accused of leaking the data is called Reto Tarnutzer, Reuters has learned.
Tarnutzer, who leaked details of the trade to the lawyer of one of Hildebrand's adversaries from SVP, was quoted on Monday as saying he had never wanted the private bank details made public.

"I wanted to achieve clarification and not an issuing of data," he wrote in a letter sent to several Swiss dailies.
He described the SVP's decision to hand over the information to the media as "ruthless," saying that the breach of bank secrecy endangered his future: "Here a potentially only small crime was fought with a bigger crime."

The psychiatric clinic where Tarnutzer was reportedly admitted after an apparent suicide attempt declined to comment. ($1 = 0.9564 Swiss francs)

Swiss central bank chief quits over wife's currency deal | Reuters

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