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Kuoni chairman suspended as boardroom battle continues

Affolter claims suspension is illegal Keystone

Daniel Affolter, the chairman of the Swiss travel group, Kuoni, has been suspended by the company. In a statement, the group said it had taken such a step because the board was convinced Affolter had been acting illegally.

This content was published on May 7, 2001 - 07:30

Kuoni said it would be launching criminal proceedings against Affolter on Monday. Regula Weyermann, spokeswoman for the company, said the suspension would take effect immediately.

In a statement, the Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation - of which Affolter is the president - said the suspension was not legitimate. "This was not on the agenda at the board's last meeting on Thursday and no demands of this kind were made," said the foundation.

In a further twist, the Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation has itself launched proceedings against the company's vice-president, Heinz Müller.

Papers were lodged with the Zurich prosecutor on Sunday, accusing Müller of breaching commercial secrets and suppressing information.

The announcements came just hours after Affolter had hit back at critics of his controversial SFr8 million bonus by announcing that he would give the money to charity.

In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, Affolter said he would be donating his bonus to the charity SOS Children's Villages, which cares for orphans.

"I have been in contact with SOS Children's Villages for several months and I have announced a major donation," he revealed.

News of Affolter's charitable act added further spice to the war of words that has been developing in recent days over the future of Kuoni.

On Thursday, the group's chief executive, Hans Lerch, and five board members called for Affolter's resignation and that of the founder and president of the Kuoni and Hugentobler foundation, Alfred Kuoni.

They accused the pair of arranging for the foundation to pay out some SFr12 million to the board's trustees. Of this, Affolter is said to have pocketed just over SFr8 million.

Affolter also told the newspaper that his resignation was "not on the agenda".

swissinfo with agencies

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