Philipp M. Hildebrand, head of the Swiss central bank, said he
regretted the trades that have clouded his reputation but maintained
he broke no laws or regulations.
Philipp M. Hildebrand, head of the Swiss central bank, said
Thursday that he regretted currency trades that have threatened his
international reputation as an advocate for tougher bank regulation,
but he maintained that he had violated no laws or regulations and
would not resign.
"I am not aware of any legal transgressions," Mr. Hildebrand said
at a news conference in Zurich. "But I understand that the public
also poses the moral question."
The 48-year-old head of the Swiss National Bank, who played a
high-profile role in formulation of new global standards designed to
limit risky behavior by bankers, was by turns contrite and angry
during the one-hour appearance, which was broadcast on the Internet.
While expressing regrets, Mr. Hildebrand portrayed the accusation
of insider trading as the work of his enemies on the Swiss political
right, and said he was considering taking legal action against those
who used information stolen from a personal account at Bank Sarasin,
a Swiss private bank.
"The personal attacks against me have reached the point where I
had to defend myself," Mr. Hildebrand said.
An information technology worker at Bank Sarasin faces a criminal
investigation for allegedly giving the information to the Swiss
People's Party, whose most visible leader, Christoph Blocher, has
been a bitter critic of Mr. Hildebrand.
Appearing on a Swiss television program Thursday, Mr. Blocher
confirmed that he had passed on information about the transactions
and called Mr. Hildebrand "no longer tolerable."
But Mr. Hildebrand also faces a storm of criticism across the
political spectrum, with members of Parliament and commentators
questioning whether he has damaged the credibility of the Swiss
National Bank and Switzerland's image abroad. Mr. Hildebrand is vice
president of the Financial Stability Board, a group of central
bankers and regulators that plays a leading role in recommending
bank regulations to the leaders of the Group of 20 nations.
Mr. Hildebrand vowed to "continue to apply all of my energy to my
job as president" of the Swiss central bank.
During the news conference, Mr. Hildebrand denied a key assertion
by Weltwoche, a right-leaning Swiss magazine that first reported
many details of the accusations. The publication said it had
evidence that Mr. Hildebrand, and not his wife, had personally made
a large investment in dollars just days before the Swiss National
Bank stepped up its intervention in currency markets. The central
bank was then engaged in an intense effort to stem the rise of the
franc and protect Swiss exporters.
Mr. Hildebrand said that his wife, Kashya Hildebrand, had legal
power to use the account and bought dollars because she considered
them very cheap. He described her as an economist and "strong
personality" who takes a keen interest in finance. …