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Swissfirst CEO resigns over insider trading claims

Troubled private bank Swissfirst has announced the resignation of its chief executive, Thomas Matter, who said that he was stepping down in order to protect the bank and his family from any polemics relating to allegations of insider trading.

Mr Matter said that he hoped that his resignation would make a contribution toward calming the waters and described the allegations made against himself as attacks on his personal integrity. Swissfirst acknowledged his resignation and said that the board of directors respected his decision.

The private banking group put itself up for sale last month in an attempt to continue business amid allegations of insider trading linked to last year’s merger with Bellevue Group, another niche bank. The resignation of the group’s CEO may help facilitate the sale by removing a central figure from the limelight, analysts have observed.

The merger between Swissfirst and Bellevue prompted reports that various pension fund managers who held private accounts at the bank may have personally profited from doing business with it, and a number of pension funds are investigating. It has been alleged that in the run-up to the merger, Mr Matter urged pension funds to sell their Swissfirst shares back to the bank, causing the bank to lose out on millions when the shares jumped on news of the deal.