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guillaume barazzone Geneva councillor to throw in the towel over expenses scandal

(© KEYSTONE / ANTHONY ANEX)

Geneva Environment Councillor Guillaume Barazzone, caught up in an expenses scandal, will not seek reelection next year as a parliamentarian in Bern, and will leave the city council in June 2020, it has been confirmed.

The 36-year-old Christian Democrat city councilor was encouraged to withdraw from politics following the expenses scandal that hit the Geneva headlines earlier this month, Keystone-SDA said on Friday, confirming an earlier report in the Tribune de Genève. Barazzone plans to leave the House of Representatives in Bern next autumn and withdraw from the Geneva city council in June 2020.

The Tribune de Genève said he had written a letter to the local branch of his party explaining his decision to “preserve party unity”.

The councillor, who was city mayor from June 2016-May 2017, was one of five Geneva officials criticized in an audit office report on exorbitant expense claims, including champagne, taxis and telephone bills.

The environment councillor claimed CHF42,000 ($42,000) in expenses in 2017, including more than CHF17,000 in mobile phone expenses. He admitted “involuntary mistakes”, such as mixing up private and public credit cards, and announced he had reimbursed over CHF50,000 claimed since 2012.

The Office of the Attorney General of Geneva subsequently opened an investigation into the audit report accusations for alleged “dishonest management of public interests”.

Following the revelations, the municipal council gave a press conference where it stressed that most of the audit report’s recommendations had been taken on board. It added that new, stricter rules had been introduced for claiming expenses.

However, current Geneva Mayor Sami Kanaan said the council refused to submit to a “complete striptease” in which each councillor reveals their professional expenses and allowances every year as a mark of transparency.

Keystone-SDA/sb

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