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Swiss crack down on corruption

Expensive gifts, like this one from the United States, must be declared

(Keystone)

The cabinet has issued concrete guidelines to combat corruption among government officials.

The recommendations, published on Monday, ban federal employees from accepting any gifts exceeding SFr100 ($77).

The Federal Personnel Office drew up the code of conduct following the introduction of a new anti-corruption law three years ago.

The guidelines have been passed on to the cantons and, according to Ulrich Schneider of the Federal Personnel Office, the response has been positive.

"There is no guarantee that government staff will follow the rules; however, we have already had some feedback from the cantons. They will look into the matter and see whether they need to apply such guidelines," Schneider told swissinfo.

Gifts

Under the recommendations, gifts should generally be declined, but those worth less than SFr100 may be accepted.

Staff are also being urged not to accept anything that would “challenge their independence and capacity to act”.

The guidelines also call for better internal control systems and include recommendations on how to protect so-called whistleblowers – people that reveal wrongdoings.

One of the main findings of the report was that corruption could only be defeated if different departments cooperated and agreed on a range of preventive measures.

However, the finance ministry stopped short of creating a special anti-corruption office.

Nepotism

Last year Switzerland was ranked 12th in a global study conducted by Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption.

The organisation blamed the country's ongoing culture of petty nepotism for its poor ranking and pointed out that around 40 cases of official corruption occurred in Switzerland each year.

The global watchdog estimates there are many more incidents of corruption but claims "these disappear under a cloak of silence".

Transparency blames the culture of corruption and cover-ups on Switzerland's home-grown "old boys' network" - circles of associates, friends, family and ex-military colleagues that help grease commercial and political exchanges.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Last year Switzerland ranked 12th in a global study on corruption done by Transparency International.

On Monday the Swiss government published guidelines to combat corruption among federal employees.

The code of conduct follows the introduction of a new anti-corruption law three years ago.

For the first time, there are recommendations on how to protect whistleblowers.

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