Swiss Post made a greater profit last year than its accounts show, according to a report by PostReg, the new postal-market regulatory authority.
The report, published on Wednesday, found there had been serious breaches of the service’s legal regulations. Swiss Post has denied the accusations.
In 2004 Swiss Post recorded a profit for its basic or universal service of SFr522 million ($400 million), but PostReg said the figure should have been at least SFr776 million.
It accused Swiss Post of disregarding legal guidelines in its book-keeping methods.
The universal service, which the 1998 Postal Act requires Swiss Post to provide, includes letters, parcels up to 20 kilograms, the transport of newspapers, and cash payments and transfers.
In its first report, PostReg acknowledged that Swiss Post was providing a good quality and financially sound universal service.
Swiss Post has emphatically rejected the criticisms of improper bookkeeping and demanded an independent inquiry.
The company said PostReg had contradicted fundamental principles of company auditing.
Swiss Post has its universal service to thank for its record results in 2004 of SFr837 million.
The PostReg report calls on Swiss Post to draw up complete accounts that conform to the law for its universal service because the "errors" could have consequences for the whole financing concept.
This foresees a fee to be paid by competitors of Swiss Post if the company cannot finance the universal service on its own.
In the current situation, it could be the government that would have to make up any shortfall because PostReg is not in a position to ask for fees if Swiss Post does not respect its legal obligations.
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PostReg, the new postal-market regulatory authority, was created as a result of increasing competition.
PostReg is affiliated to the Swiss communications ministry for purely administrative purposes.
It is an independent expert authority that advises both the ministry and the government.
Swiss Post’s 2,585 post offices are reachable within 20 minutes for 91.5 per cent of the population.
Adherence to the postal delivery time was 97.4 per cent in 2004.
But the second-class post experienced more delays than in the previous year – despite a price increase.