The Swiss do not believe corruption is a major problem in the small alpine nation, according to a survey. But the rich exert an influence on politics and there is a fear of reprisals in corruption cases, it found.
The Swiss seem to trust their political and business leaders. Over three-quarters of Swiss respondents to a survey commissioned by the watchdog Transparency International agreed that businessmen, cabinet ministers, government officials and members of parliament were generally not corrupt.
Ironically, the findings were released on the very day that two civil servants from the environment ministry went on trial at the Federal Criminal Court for allegedly taking bribes to award IT contracts.
The duo are accused of taking cash bribes and other inducements, such as an all-expenses paid trip to see FC Basel play Barcelona in a football match, to hand out contracts for an environment ministry IT project. The alleged crimes are said to have taken place between 2007 and 2010.
Four other defendants, two from an IT company, are also facing charges in connection with the case, which is expected to last three days. The court in Bellinzona, in southern Switzerland, will deliver its verdict at a later date.
Despite the IT tender scandal, only 10% of respondents to the survey said corruption was the most important issue facing the government. Immigration was considered to be the biggest problem (60% of those questioned), followed by the economy (45%).
Only Sweden and Germany had lower percentages for overall corruption. Meanwhile, Moldova topped the ranking, followed by Spain, Kosovo, Slovenia and Ukraine, as the countries thought to have the biggest corruption problems.
Citizens in Ukraine, Moldova, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Spain are most critical of their governments’ efforts at fighting corruption, with four in five or more saying they are doing badly.
These are several of the findings in the latest Global Corruption Barometer, a ranking based on a 42-nation survey, published on Wednesday.
However, 66% of Swiss respondents felt that wealthy individuals use their influence on government for their own interests and that there should be stricter rules to prevent it.
The poll also found that half of all people questioned thought corruption was not reported as people were afraid of the consequences.
Martin Hilti, director of Transparency International Switzerland, said this figure was ‘extremely worrying’. He urged the Swiss authorities to strengthen its protection of whistleblowers, in particular under private law
swissinfo.ch with agencies