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Alleged data thief accuses party lawyer

The bank worker who triggered the Swiss National Bank (SNB) scandal has accused a lawyer for the rightwing Swiss People’s Party of breach of confidentiality.

The former Bank Sarasin employee, who has admitted passing confidential information about former SNB chairman Philipp Hildebrand to the lawyer, a member of the Thurgau cantonal parliament, has asked for criminal charges to be laid against him.

The lawyer’s lawyer confirmed reports in Sunday newspapers in which the bank IT worker said he had visited the man to get his legal opinion, but had not agreed to the forwarding of the data.

The lawyer’s lawyer disputed this. “There was never a client-lawyer relationship between [the two men]. They met as old school friends and had regular contact on a daily basis because of the Hildebrand data,” he told the Swiss news agency.

He said his client had never in any way acted contrary to wishes of the alleged data thief.

Hildebrand resigned as chairman of the SNB on January 9, having been accused of insider trading after private banking details of foreign currency transactions were leaked. Hildebrand denied the charge, maintaining his wife ordered the transactions without his prior knowledge.

The Zurich prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Friday it had launched criminal proceedings against the People’s Party lawyer and a People’s Party member of the Zurich cantonal parliament for breaches of banking secrecy laws.

The Thurgau lawyer told the St Galler Tagblatt last week he had arranged a meeting between the IT worker and People’s Party deputy chairman Christoph Blocher who subsequently informed the government of suspicions about Hildebrand’s foreign currency transactions.  

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR