Swiss president wants ‘clean’ finances

Swiss President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said Thursday she wanted to restore credibility to the country's financial system after a scandal involving the central bank head rocked the country.

Swiss president wants 'clean' finances
Swiss Federal Chancellery (File)

“It is necessary to restore the crediblity of the Swiss financial system after the matter involving the chairman of the SNB (Swiss National Bank),” said Widmer-Schlumpf, speaking at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva.

The president, who is also finance minister had given initial support to the outgoing SNB head, Philipp Hildebrand, after revelations of foreign exchange transactions by his wife.

After two weeks of tension and accusations in the local press over the purchase of half a million dollars made by his wife, Hildebrand finally announced his resignation on Monday “with immediate effect.”

“The Federal Council has responded as it could and we cannot say he should have reacted differently,” Widmer-Schlumpf said.

She said that the appointment of a new central bank chairman could “go fast” or “take longer” depending on developments in the search by the SNB board.

The Swiss president said she wanted “to bequeath to my children and grandchildren a Swiss financial performance, clean and subject to tax.”


Swiss National Bank hit by new spray paint attack

A woman activist spray painted a message on a billboard outside Switzerland’s central bank on Friday in an echo of a similar protest last year in which an 86-year-old woman was arrested.

Swiss National Bank hit by new spray paint attack
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The incident occurred as the Swiss National Bank (SNB) held its annual general meeting in Bern, the Blick newspaper reported.

An unidentified woman sprayed the message 'please remember why we founded you' on the billboard in red paint.

According to the paper, the protestor was campaigning in support of the campaign for monetary reform, which goes to a nationwide vote in June.

READ ALSO: Why the Swiss National Bank needs more gold

Known as the Vollgeld Initiative in German and the Initiative Monnaie Pleine in French, the initiative calls an end to traditional bank lending and for the SNB to be the only financial institution able to issue money. 

The SNB opposes the sovereign money initiative.

With the help of other activists, the spray painter removed the words a short time later.

Almost exactly one year ago an 86-year-old woman was arrested after spraying an anti-war message outside the SNB in a case that drew worldwide attention.

READ ALSO: Woman, 86, arrested for spraying anti-war graffiti on Swiss National Bank

The peace activist spray-painted ‘Money for weapons kills' on the billboard. 

She was campaigning on behalf of the Group for a Switzerland without an Army (GSsA) which had launched a popular initiative to ban Swiss financing of any company that produces arms. 

If it gathers the required 100,000 signatures by October 2018, the issue will go to a national referendum.