SWITZERLAND - A confidentiality agreement has surfaced suggesting Roland Rümmeli, former investment head of the Siemens Switzerland pension fund, had insider knowledge of a merger between local banks Swissfirst and Bellevue.

Swiss authorities are currently trying to establish whether the pension funds were involved in insider trading of these two firms or received some kind of payments for selling their shares.

However, officials have publicly confirmed the signatory of one confidentiality agreement produced days before the merger was Roland Rümmeli, former investment head of the Siemens Switzerland pension fund.

"The document is a confidentiality agreement on the merger between Swissfirst and Bellevue signed by Rümmeli a few days before the merger," public prosecutor Arno Thürig confirmed to IPE.

The Siemens retirement scheme was one of six Pensionskassen which sold their shares in Swissfirst shortly before the September 2005 merger with Bellevue bank, but which did not appear to profit from the increases in share prices of up to 40% after the deal was announced.

Thürig would not comment on the relevance of the documents for the case, or whether similar documents were found elsewhere, because of ongoing legal proceedings.

"The signed agreement had been made available to the Swiss media by parties involved in the case," Thürig explained.

"The document was found in Rümmeli's flat during a house search in January of this year," a spokesman for Siemens Switzerland told IPE.

He added Siemens had now finished its internal inquiries into the matter. All relevant documents had been passed on to the public prosecutor.

"We are now waiting for results of the investigations by the public prosecution office," he continued.

During the course of its investigations, the public prosecution office found kickback payments made to Rümmeli. He was subsequently dismissed from his position at Siemens following his arrest in September 2006. (See earlier IPE story: Siemens Swiss pension fund manager arrested)

He was remanded in custody but released a month later as the public prosecutor announced Rümmeli was no longer impeding investigations. In November, the former pension fund manager repaid CHF400,000 (€251,000) to Siemens.

In the same month, Siemens also sued Rümmeli without disclosing their nature of their suit so as "not to jeopardise the investigation".

Two of the six Swiss Pensionskassen embroiled in the Swissfirst affair have since been vindicated by an official investigation. Those schemes are Swiss drugs giant Roche and the supermarket chain Coop.