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Politician accused of misusing charity funds

Zäch says he is ready to clear his name Keystone Archive

The president of the Swiss Paraplegics Foundation is facing charges of embezzlement and mismanagement.

This content was published on August 14, 2002 - 16:18

Guido Zäch, who is also a member of Switzerland's federal parliament, is suspected of illegally investing SFr57 million of the foundation's funds.

The authorities in Basel claim the money was squandered in a series of loss-making projects and property.

Prosecutors launched their investigation after receiving a tip-off from a former member of the foundation.

Zäch, who is a doctor, is suspected of having invested millions in two hotels and a restaurant.

The cantonal prosecutor's office in Basel has also been looking into separate allegations that the Swiss parliamentarian misappropriated SFr3 million for his own use.

Pressing charges

Markus Melzl, an investigating official at the prosecutor's office, confirmed to swissinfo on Wednesday that charges had been brought against Zäch.

"The prosecutor's office brought charges against him on August 12 in relation to multiple cases of embezzlement and misappropriation," said Melzl.

"He stands accused of having misused a part of the funds entrusted to him in his capacity as president of the foundation during the period 1990 to 1999," he added.

Zäch's response

Responding to the allegations, Zäch - who has denied the charge - said he would now "have the opportunity" to clear his name in public.

"Now, finally, things will be cleared up in front of a judge and then we will see who is right and where injustice has been done," he said.

In a statement, the Swiss Paraplegics Foundation defended its president, saying the accusations were both "unfounded and unbelievable".

Prosecutors have now forwarded their evidence to the cantonal court, but no date has yet been set for the formal start of legal proceedings.

If he is found guilty by a judge, prosecutors say Zäch could face anything from three days to ten years behind bars.

Zäch, a special physician for internal medicine, is one of the country's best known doctors. He is widely respected for his pioneering work to improve the lives of paraplegics.

swissinfo

Guido Zäch

Zäch is president of the Swiss Paraplegics Foundation.
He is accused of embezzling millions of francs.
He was charged by prosecutors on August 12 but is protesting his innocence.

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