Business

Swiss bank says currency dealing claims 'partly incorrect'

Philipp Hildebrand.
Image caption Philipp Hildebrand has come under pressure over the transactions

The Swiss central bank has said recent claims about the currency dealings of its chairman, Philipp Hildebrand, and his wife are "partly incorrect".

The bank said the family broke no rules and published a report into the claims.

Kashya Hildebrand bought $504,000 (£323,024) in August, three weeks before the bank intervened to reduce the value of the Swiss franc. She later sold the dollars to buy a property.

Mr Hildebrand is due to give a press conference on Thursday.

Investigation

The investigation ordered by Swiss National Bank (SNB) was carried out by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The central bank announced before Christmas that the couple had been cleared, but it did not publish the report, or full details of its own rules, at the time.

In an effort to counter what the bank called "inaccurate" media speculation, it published a redacted version of the PwC report, alongside the bank's regulations, on Wednesday.

The report laid out a timeline for the family's currency transactions.

On 10 March 2011, the family sold a property in Switzerland and converted the 1.1m Swiss francs from that sale into US dollars ($1.173m).

On 15 August, Mrs Hildebrand bought $504,000 because she wanted to have half of the family's assets in US dollars. Some $20,000 was also transferred into the bank account of Mrs Hildebrand's daughter.

Cheap

"My interest in dollar trade was motivated by the fact that it was at a record low and was almost ridiculously cheap. Since I worked in the banking sector for over 15 years and always observe the markets, I felt comfortable making the trade," said Kashya Hildebrand in a statement given to Swiss television programme 10 vor 10.

On 6 September, following the transaction, the SNB intervened to reduce the value of the Swiss franc, making the dollar stronger.

On 4 October, the family sold $516,000, converting it back into francs in order to buy a new property in Switzerland.

Because the franc had fallen against the dollar the family made a profit.

The PwC statement says that because the money was converted to buy a property, and not to invest in financial products, it is within the bank's rules on currency exchanges.

The larger transfer, made in March, also falls within the rules as it was not used for six months and is considered a passive investment.

Leak

The claims have led to the dismissal of an IT worker at private Swiss bank Sarasin for leaking confidential information on the family.

In a statement the bank alleged the information was then passed on by a lawyer to a politician previously critical of the bank chairman.

The claims have raised concerns about privacy within Swiss banks.

"The more important topic is that someone stole our financial documents from our private bank and is trying to destabilise the Swiss central bank," said Mrs Hildebrand in her statement.

The Swiss banking regulator, Finma, has told the BBC it is in contact with Bank Sarasin about the claims - but it has not launched an investigation.