No new government unit to monitor state firms after PostBus scandal

CarPostal, the French subsidiary of SwissBus, has since been sold off following the scandal. CarPostal France

The government has rejected demands from a parliamentary commission to change the way it monitors state-owned companies. This follows an illegal subsidies scam by the transport unit of the Swiss postal service.

This content was published on February 21, 2020 - 13:10
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The PostBus unit claimed tens of millions of francs in illegal Swiss state subsidies, which it funneled into a loss-making French subsidiary. The scandal cost the jobs of top executives and is still being examined by criminal prosecutors.

The government also came under strong parliamentary and public criticism for failing to earlier spot the abuses that ran from 2007 to 2015.

A parliamentary commission examined the role of the Federal Council, Switzerland’s governing body, in the affair and found several deficiencies. Among them are a conflict of interest in government demands that parent company Swiss Post makes profits as a group but not from operating its distinctive yellow buses.

The commission recommended the establishment of a new Federal Council body that explicitly supervises state-owned companies such as Swiss Post, Swiss Federal Railways and telecoms company Swisscom.

Government reply

On Friday, the Federal Council issued its reply to the commission’s findings. It rejected the idea of setting up a new supervisory office but agreed to amend the wording of Swiss Post’s charter to erase any potential conflicts of interest in future.

However, the Federal Council denied that the current wording of the charter could have reasonably caused the abuses. It added that the Federal Office of Transport was implementing stricter compliance measures and would in future coordinate better with the finance ministry.

“The Federal Council unequivocally disapproves of the many years of systematic irregularities at PostBus. As a federal company, Swiss Post must act as a role model, particularly when it comes to handling public funds,” read a statement.

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