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Parliament calls for crack down on corruption

The Swiss House of Representatives has come out strongly in favour of adopting an international convention against corruption and demands a firm crackdown on corruption and bribery within Switzerland.

This content was published on October 7, 1999 - 12:31

The Swiss House of Representatives has come out strongly in favour of adopting an international convention against corruption and demands a firm crackdown on corruption and bribery within Switzerland.

Even though the reform proposals still need Senate approval, House members on Thursday unanimously voted in favour of ratifying the anti-corruption convention of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The “Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions” came into force in February.

The OECD said in a statement issued last month that corruption distorts the allocation of resources, undermines fair competition in the marketplace and erodes confidence in political systems and institutions.

Swiss House members therefore voted in favour of punishing those who try to bribe high-ranking officials in a foreign country.

The House also came out strongly against tightening punishment for corruption within Switzerland.

Those who are found guilty of bribing government officials would – if the Senate agrees – face prison terms of up to five years and the statute of limitations would be extended to ten years.

Government officials who accept bribes would be sent to prison, and giving presents with the purpose of winning favours from a civil servant would be punishable.

Critics in parliament said the latter clause would create more confusion than anything else. If approved, it might in future be considered a criminal offence to invite a government official for dinner.

Under a 1946 law, Swiss companies that have been paying bribes to win contracts abroad have been allowed to deduct those expenses from their taxes.

From staff and wire reports.

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