Top politician cleared of breaking law

Peter Hess came under heavy fire for his directorships of offshore companies Keystone Archive

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Peter Hess, has effectively been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with his directorships of foreign-based companies.

This content was published on August 10, 2001 - 14:26

The regulatory office dealing with money laundering said on Friday that Hess, known as Switzerland's highest elected politician, had not contravened any laws in his association with the offshore companies.

The office investigated one Panama-based company, of which Hess was a director, and said its examination of four other companies was being suspended pending a decision by the finance ministry.

Hess gave up his 48 directorships - including three in Panama and the Virgin Islands - in May, amid a political storm over his business dealings.

His opponents charged him with failing to distinguish clearly enough between his political and business interests by having so many directorships, and an inquiry was launched to see if any of the companies involved contravened money laundering regulations.

Hess consistently denied any wrongoing.

Revelations of his directorships, particularly in the Caribbean, initially led to calls for his resignation earlier this year. He refused to step down. But politicians criticised him from bringing the position of House of Representatives speaker into disrepute, saying the post was incompatible with his business interests.

swissinfo with agencies

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