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Corruption Swiss companies do well, public sector a worry

A man holds a 20 Swiss Francs bill in his hand

The Swiss branch of Transparency International says the country must step up its fight against corruption.


A global business survey has found cases of graft and corruption to be less common among companies in Switzerland relative to other countries. But where the public sector is concerned, a corruption watchdog worries Switzerland is not doing enough to keep government institutions above reproach.

Accounting and Consulting Firm Ernst & Young (EY) conducted a global survey looking at companies involved in fraud and corruption cases. It found that only 6% of the Swiss companies surveyed had registered such cases in the past two years. The countries with higher rates of corruption included Ukraine (36%), Kenya (26%), Belgium or Russia (both 20%). Swiss companies reported fewer cases than Denmark and Germany (18%). The global average is 11%.

The EY study also asked managers what they thought of the situation regarding bribery and corruption in their country. In Switzerland, only 2% of respondents believed that these practices are widespread. That figure stands in sharp contrast with the findings for Brazil (96%), Colombia (94%) or Nigeria (90%), where managers overwhelmingly see corrupt methods as the order of the day.

Meanwhile, the Swiss branch of Transparency Internationalexternal link sent a letter to Switzerland’s financial delegation of parliament raising concern over the efficacy of an interdepartamental anti-corruption body. The open letter, published on Monday, says the Federal Council (executive) ignores serious shortcomings in this body and opposes urgent reforms.

Transparency International Switzerlandexternal link also called into question a decision by the Federal Council to extend the mandate of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Combating Corruptionexternal link without making reforms or consulting the public. The letter noted that corruption cases occur regularly in Swiss institutions, including the federal government, pointing to the recent PostBus illegal subsidies scandal and procurement irregularities.

 + Background: Swiss PostBus company claimed millions in illegal subsidies

"Every case is one too many because, in every case, the taxpayer's money entrusted to the Confederation is misused,” read the letter. “The cases that have come to light are only the tip of the iceberg.”

The anti-corruption working group is chaired by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. A previous version of this article erroneously stated the letter was addressed to Swiss federal authorities. The letter was addressed to the financial delegation of Swiss parliament. 

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