Swiss National Bank Chief Out

Jan 9 2012 | 1:13pm ET

Sullied by a controversial currency trade by his wife, a former hedge fund trader, the head of the Swiss National Bank has resigned.

Philipp Hildebrand quit as chairman of Switzerland's central bank today, a weekend after a defiant press conference at which he steadfastly refused to do so. But this morning, he said, "I have to come to the conclusion that it is not possible to provide conclusive and final evidence that my wife did indeed initiate the foreign exchange transaction on the 15th August without my knowledge," he said.

But Hildebrand stood by his claim that he had no knowledge of the trade.

"The fact is: My word is my bond," he said. "I had no knowledge of my wife's transaction on that day."

Hildebrand's wife, Kashya, formerly of Moore Capital Management and now an art-gallery owner in Zürich, apologized for the trade, in which she bought 400,000 Swiss francs' worth of U.S. dollars just weeks before Hildebrand unveiled a successful plan to weaken the franc, sending the dollar soaring.

"I failed my husband by not considering the perception of a 'conflict of interest' created by my purchase of dollars," she said. "My husband is a man of the utmost integrity, and I deeply regret that my actions might have led anyone to question this."

The scandal broke late last year, when a Bank Sarasin employee leaked word of Kashya Hildebrand's trade to her husband's political opponents. That employee has since been fired and is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

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