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Subsidies scandal Swiss Post CEO rejects blame for PostBus subsidies scandal

A PostBus climbs the Altdorf-Isenthal road in canton Uri

A PostBus climbs the Altdorf-Isenthal road in canton Uri

(Keystone)

The head of Swiss Post, Susanne Ruoff, has refused to step down for errors she admits were made at the PostBus subsidiary company regarding the manipulation of accounts to claim tens of millions of francs worth of federal and cantonal subsidies. 

“I neither lied nor did anything wrong,” Ruoff declared in an interview on Sunday in the SonntagsBlick newspaper.

+ PostBus claimed millions in illegal subsidies

The Post chief executive officer has promised to fully investigate a report by the Federal Office of Transport external linkthat PostBus claimed almost CHF80 million ($85 million) in excessive federal and cantonal subsidies over the past decade by manipulating accounts. The PostBus director and the chief finance officer were dismissed over the affair and the subsidiary must refund the money.  

Ruoff, who has been in charge at the national postal service since 2012, said she only discovered last November that cost transfers carried out by the bus company financed by public funds were illegal. She claimed the transport office director had informed her about the fictive bills and accounting. 

“I reacted immediately as I wanted complete clarification,” she told the newspaper. Ruoff said she set up a working group with external specialists who confirmed that the practice was illegal. 

She rejects claims that she had been aware of the reported accounting methods since 2013. But she admits that profits earned by the PostBusexternal link service should have received greater scrutiny and been handled quicker. The CEO added that no internal or external auditor had highlighted any irregularities. 

A regular audit by the Transport Office revealed that between the years 2007 and 2015, the company known for its bright yellow buses that carry passengers throughout the Alps deliberately kept its profits low to receive more support money from the government.

The exact motives behind the systematic accounting tricks remain unclear. Several politicians have expressed outrage and demanded a thorough investigation. The Federal Office of Transport announced that it would file a formal complaint over the matter with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland. 

ATS-SDA/sb

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