Swiss government ups probe into Pilatus-Saudi deal

The Swiss authorities are questioning the role of aircraft workers stationed in politically sensitive places away from the home base (pictured) near Lucerne. © KEYSTONE / CHRISTIAN BEUTLER

A Swiss aircraft manufacturer may have broken the law through part of a contract signed with Saudi Arabia. The foreign affairs ministry has begun a deeper investigation.

This content was published on January 10, 2019 - 08:57

Tasked with helping to maintain military training aircraft, 12 Pilatus AircraftExternal link employees are working in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Swiss companies are legally obliged to report any activity with foreign armies.

Last October already, the foreign affairs ministryExternal link said that Pilatus may not have complied with its legal obligations. Because of the ongoing Saudi-Yemen conflict, the work in Riyadh is problematic, reported Swiss public radio, SRFExternal link, on Thursday.

+ How Pilatus reponded in October

SRF also reported that a government investigation would now continue with more intensity. Such “verification procedures” are initiated if there are indications that a business transaction could put Switzerland’s security, foreign policy objectives, neutrality or humanitarian obligations into jeopardy, the broadcaster explained.

“Pilatus continues to stand by all statements made earlier and is not aware of any guilt. Pilatus is cooperating comprehensively and transparently with the foreign affairs ministry in the current review procedure,” Pilatus told SRF. It cited an email from the ministry confirming that the aircraft maintenance in Saudi Arabia was covered by the 2012 export permit.

However, the maintenance contract has since been renewed, and with the Yemen war, the political situation has changed.

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