Switzerland’s federal prosecutor’s office is handling a request for mutual assistance in an investigation involving the Basel-based duty-free group Dufry.
The request was sent by the government of Mauritius, which according to reports in two Swiss newspapers is looking into the details of an exclusive agreement reached between Dufry and two Mauritian airports.
According to the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche newspapers, Dufry concluded the airport deal in 2013, after which time it began collecting two-thirds of the profits from the airports’ duty-free stores. Previously, a state-run company had operated the duty-free stores at Mauritian airports.
The newspapers reported that when a new government took power in the island nation in 2015, several top officials accused Dufry representatives of having bribed former high-ranking Mauritian politicians in exchange for the lucrative airport contracts.
A spokesperson for Dufry told the Swiss News Agency SDA that the company has not been contacted by any authorities regarding the investigation. Dufry also rejects all accusations of wrongdoing in the Mauritian airport deals, according to the spokesperson and to the newspaper reports.
Details of a legal conflict between Mauritian officials and Dufry surfaced in the massive “Paradise Papers” leak of thousands of offshore investment documents.
Dufry handles approximately one-quarter of all airport duty-free business worldwide.
Mauritius, a small island nation located in the Indian Ocean, has a population of about one million people and hosts roughly the same number of tourists every year.