Currency scandal broke my heart, says banker's wife

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The Independent Online

Kashya Hildebrand, the wife of the former head of Switzerland's central bank has said her husband sudden departure from the bank broke her heart.

Speaking publicly for the first time since Philipp Hildebrand resigned on Monday to end the currency trading scandal that has shaken the central bank, she said the "swissie" transaction was "my idea".

"What breaks my heart is that his credibility is being stained," Mrs Hildebrand told Swiss television. "There was an error of judgement. He should never have let me do that transaction, and upon reflection, that transaction should have been reversed."

Mrs Hildebrand, an art dealer and former banker, bought $500,000 dollars with the proceeds of the sale of a ski chalet in August, at a time when the Swiss franc was seen as being way too high for the good of the economy. In September, Mr Hildebrand then led the decision by the central bank to cap the currency, the first such cap since the 1970s. Mrs Hildebrand netted a profit of Sfr60,000 when she sold dollars a month later.

The Swiss government and central bank cleared Mr Hildebrand in internal investigations, but he was forced to resign after details of the transactions were leaked to a Swiss politician, triggering a furore.

"I left the airport last night and on 15 newspapers, my husband was on the cover," Mrs Hildebrand told Swiss television yesterday. "And yes, he's very good-looking, that's clear, but what's more important is that people are turning this into an insider-trading kind of scandalous event."

Mr Hildebrand said there was no way he could prove that the transaction was initiated by his wife rather than himself.

"From the bottom of my heart, I apologise to the Swiss people, to the politicians who have been distracted from what's important, and more importantly to my husband because he's a great man, he's done a great job," Mrs Hildebrand said.