Swiss Post’s Board of Directors has affirmed its support and confidence in chief executive Susanne Ruoff as the fall-out from a wide-reaching subsidies scandal continues.
At a press conference in Bern on Thursday afternoon, the Board’s president Urs Schwaller admitted that the decade-long manipulation of the accounts of PostBus – which allowed it to claim CHF80 million ($85 million) in excessive subsidies – amounted to an “unprecedent incident” of “unparalleled scale.”
However, he and the board maintained their faith in CEO Susanne Ruoff, who will stay in the role she has occupied since 2012. A working group of independent experts has been established, under Schwaller’s direction, and will between now and May try to establish where responsibility lies in the affair.
Ruoff and Swiss Post has come under intense scrutiny since a Transport Office audit last year discovered that PostBus – known for its alpine network of yellow commuter buses – had manipulated accounts between 2007 and 2015 to pocket millions in federal and cantonal subsidies.
The PostBus CEO and chief financial officer were both dismissed in the wake of the discovery, which Ruoff denies having knowledge of until late 2017 when the audit was carried out.
“I neither lied nor did anything wrong,” she declared on Sunday in the SonntagsBlick newspaper, reacting to claims that she had been aware of the reported accounting methods since 2013.
The exact motives behind the systematic accounting tricks remain unclear. Several politicians have expressed outrage and demanded a thorough investigation, and on Wednesday an official legal complaint was filed to the Attorney General’s office by the Federal Office of Transport.
Ruoff and Swiss Post have promised that the extra funds will be paid back in full to federal and cantonal authorities.