Alex Salmond has been accused of pressurising Scottish financial services representatives from releasing a report on independence.
The trade body Scottish Financial Enterprise has confirmed Scottish government ministers made calls in a bid to discourage the trade body from commenting on the independence referendum.
The SFE, which is politically neutral, has issued a number of documents exploring the implications of independence, including a briefing note highlighting questions over EU membership, currency and financial regulation.
Additional reports by The Telegraph suggested Scottish first minister Salmond telephoned the SFE’s chairman in a bid to persuade him not to publish a briefing paper.
SFE chief executive Owen Kelly said the organisation had been contacted by Scottish policymakers: “Ministers in the Scottish government made calls to some of our members and to our chairman, as they are entitled to do – it would be odd for ministers not to speak to senior figures in our industry and we welcome contacts at this level," he said, according to the paper.
“These calls were intended to discourage SFE from commenting on the independence question but our position was explained and the world moved on. Various lines were briefed to the media about our organisation and its staff at the time the document was published which is disappointing, but these were dealt with.”
Some find it “difficult to accept” the SFE is neutral on the referendum question, he added.
A First Minister spokesman said Salmond speaks to SFE members on a regular basis, in part because he co-chairs a financial sector advisory body.
He said: “Members of SFE have a variety of different views on the constitution, and the Scottish government believes it is important for that to be properly reflected – something which SFE has sensibly done, in contrast to the absurd position the Confederation of British Industry got themselves into.”
The CBI registered with the Electoral Commission in order to campaign against Scottish independence, but later reversed its position.
In February, Investment Week reported how Scotland’s £800bn fund management industry has been drawing up contingency plans in the event of a vote for independence this September.
While many fund houses have remained politically neutral, Standard Life has announced it may relocate outside of Scotland should the country become independent.
However, the Yes campaign also has backers among investment managers – as of April, First State manager Angus Tulloch was the fourth biggest donor to Yes Scotland.