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Investigation opened into Swiss aid office in Chad

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has opened an enquiry into suspected mismanagement at the Swiss development aid agency office in Chad.

A member of staff at the office of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is suspected of illegal activities in connection with the agency’s finances.

During a financial audit in 2006, serious questions were raised about the office’s bookkeeping and personnel policy, and a lack of “controls on expenditure ” was uncovered in two large aid projects.

This, according to the foreign ministry, enabled a staff member to commit crimes. A ministry spokesman did not say what the wrongdoings were.

The administrative investigation launched by Calmy-Rey will not only investigate the charges of mismanagement in Chad, but will query the SDC to find out why it did not follow up on recommendations to resolve the issue.

Chad is one of Switzerland’s “priority” countries for aid, and last year, the African nation received SFr12.5 million ($11.81 million) for development projects and humanitarian assistance.

It is not the first time in recent years that the Swiss authorities have investigated dubious activities at foreign missions.

In 2005, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office investigated officials at several embassies and consulates on charges of allegedly issuing fraudulent visas, mainly in return for bribes.

A year later, Calmy-Rey ordered all staff at the Swiss embassy in Pakistan, including the ambassador, to be replaced after around 100 cases of visa fraud were uncovered.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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