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Prison for doctor who misused millions

Guido Zäch was sentenced to two years prison Keystone Archive

One of Switzerland’s best-known doctors has been sentenced to two years in jail for squandering millions of francs from the charity that he heads.

This content was published on July 11, 2003 - 15:52

A court in Basel found Guido Zäch, who is also a parliamentarian, guilty of mismanaging SFr29.4 million ($21.3 million) belonging to the Swiss Paraplegics Foundation.

The 68-year-old doctor – who has repeatedly asserted his innocence – was found not guilty of embezzlement.

He was ordered to pay legal fees of Fr56,500.

The Basel city prosecutor had demanded a three year and nine month jail sentence for the doctor.

Zäch said he would appeal the sentence. He also said he would be stepping down as a member of parliament.

Zäch's Christian Democratic Party - one of the four in government - thanked him for serving the party, saying he had been a dedicated, hard-working politician.

Denial

Zäch denies that he used the foundation’s money to invest in loss-making projects and real estate investments between 1990 and 1999.

The doctor was accused of taking an extra SFr1.5 million in salary payments in the 1990s.

He was also accused of buying a SFr2 million house for the foundation and pocketing profits from the deal.

Around SFr2.3 million of the foundation’s money was used to renovate the property. In 1988 Zäch’s family moved into the house and remained there until 2000.

The Christian Democrat parliamentarian then bought the property from the foundation for SFr1.8 million and sold it on to his brother.

Party support

At the conclusion of the trial, which began in late June, the Christian Democrats said they were not yet prepared to take a position on the verdict.

Zäch’s party has stood behind him throughout the crisis, which began last August when he was formally charged.

Earlier this year he was nominated by the Christian Democrats to stand in October’s general election for the House of Representatives – where he has had a seat since 1999.

Investigations into Zäch’s dealings began after the foundation’s vice-president, Marc Suter, resigned three years ago.

Zäch is a specialist in internal medicine and is highly respected for his work in improving the lives of paraplegics.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Zäch was found guilty of mismanaging SFr29.4 million ($21.3 million) from the Swiss Paraplegics Foundation.
He was sentenced to two years in prison.
Zäch has been a Christian Democrat member of parliament since 1999.
He announced his resignation from parliament soon after being sentenced.

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