Currency trade brings down Swiss National Bank Chairman

A scandal surrounding a (very profitable!) currency trade has brought down Switzerland’s #1 banker, Swiss National Bank (SNB) Chairman Philipp Hildebrand. Hildebrand resigned earlier today, under pressure after fighting allegations of wrongdoing stemming from a currency trade made by his wife in August. Kashya Hildebrand – a former hedge fund trader – apparently sold about CHF 400,000 for U.S. dollars, just three weeks before her husband led a surprise move by the SNB in early September which effectively capped the value of the CHF versus the Euro (and thereby other currencies), and which led to an immediate 9% devaluation of the CHF versus the USD.

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

We view it somewhat ironic that the SNB itself had lax internal rules governing what its members, and their immediate family, could and could not do in terms of Forex or equity trades. Switzerland’s financial regulator FINMA has made Switzerland the most heavily regulated country for Forex brokers, requiring of them a full Swiss banking license, which includes the highest amount of minimum capital of any country, as well as the detailed disclosures required of commercial banks. (For this reason, among others, the two leading Swiss-based Forex brokers are members of LeapRate’s Approved List of Forex firms – MIG Bank and Swissquote.)

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