Billionaire Christoph Blocher has given up his majority shareholding in the speciality chemicals group, EMS Chemie.This content was published on December 31, 2003 - 18:20
The announcement - made at an extraordinary meeting of the company's shareholders - came one day before he officially took up the post of Swiss justice minister.
On Wednesday, Blocher confirmed that he had transferred his 73 per cent stake in the company to his four children.
"Although I wasn't legally obliged to do so, I have decided to transfer the ownership of the shares, in order to avoid any conflict of interests between being a businessman and a credible cabinet minister," said Blocher.
The charismatic driving force of the rightwing Swiss People's Party had come under mounting criticism for failing to sell the shares after his election to the cabinet on December 10.
Government ministers must sever all business ties and give up company directorships before taking up office. However, there is no legal obligation to relinquish shareholdings.
The 172 shareholders present at Wednesday's meeting also voted in Dieter Klug, a 66-year-old German who is to replace Blocher as chairman of the board of directors.
Blocher had earlier announced that he would also be stepping down as chief executive of the Zurich-based group, in favour of his daughter, Magdalena Martullo-Blocher.
Blocher's 34-year-old daughter was already a familiar face at the company and has been a member of the board since 2001.
Her father had been majority shareholder, chairman and chief executive at EMS for the best part of 20 years.
swissinfo with agencies
Christoph Blocher has given up his majority shareholding in EMS Chemie in favour of his children.
He was under pressure to sever business ties with the company before becoming justice minister on January 1, 2004.
The move comes three weeks after he announced he would be resigning as chief executive of the Zurich-based group in favour of his daughter.
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