Economics minister defends ex-central banker

Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann has rejected accusations made against the former National Bank governor, Philipp Hildebrand.

This content was published on January 15, 2012 - 12:56

In an interview with the Sunday edition of the Basler Zeitung newspaper, Schneider-Ammann said Hildebrand had neither breached the law nor deliberately flouted ethical rules.

Schneider-Ammann said Hildebrand, who stepped down last Monday amid pressure over controversial private currency transactions by his wife, had been the victim of systematic attacks over the past 12 months.

He did not elaborate, but the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, notably its strongman Christoph Blocher, has criticised the central bank over its monetary policy.

Schneider-Ammann said internal banking regulations had to be improved but he warned of “over-regulation.”

His statement comes amid a public debate over the independence of the National Bank and the role of the bank board as supervisory authority.

The cabinet last Wednesday said it would take weeks before it named a successor to Hildebrand. It decided to commission a report to clarify the supervision responsibilities before it elects a new representative of the three-member bank directorate.

Parliament for its part is expected to decide by the end of the month whether to launch a formal investigation into the Hildebrand affair. A criminal inquiry over alleged violation of banking secrecy laws is underway.

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