Minister ‘stands by all decisions’

Bad news? The family firm of Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann is under the fiscal microscope Keystone

Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who was head of a construction group now under investigation by the Bernese tax authorities, has said he will comment publicly when the authorities have finished rechecking their internal documents.

This content was published on February 6, 2014 - 11:44 and agencies

A Jersey subsidiary of the Ammann construction group, which is owned by the minister’s family, is the target of the tax investigation.

“I am at ease with the investigation as the appropriate tax authorities were fully informed at all times and all laws were adhered to. I behaved appropriately at all times and stand by all my decisions,” said Schneider-Ammann, who was chairman and CEO  of the group, in a statement given to Swiss public television, SRF.

The investigation was originally reported by the television channel, which based its report on tax documents revealing that for years the Ammann Group had placed assets in Jersey and Luxembourg, possibly to save on taxes.

It said that at the end of 2008 the company held CHF264 million ($295 million) in Jersey. In 2009 – one year before Schneider-Ammann was elected to the cabinet – the money was transferred to Switzerland.

The Ammann Group belongs to the family of Schneider-Ammann’s wife.

In a written statement to SRF, the Ammann Group said: “These companies were at all times openly declared and conform with Swiss and local law. The issue of tax residency was dealt with by the tax authorities and to our knowledge, examined and regulated.”

The Bern authorities have also commented. “There are indications that in recent years things might not have run optimally or correctly,” Bruno Knüsel, head of canton Bern’s tax administration told the SRF programme.

“We’re now going to look at all our internal documents once again.”

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