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Whistleblowing Survey finds abuse in more than a third of Swiss companies

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Whistleblowers reported suspected cases of abuse notably in large companies.

(Keystone / A2625/_roland Holschneider)

Suspected cases of embezzlement, tax fraud, money laundering and sexual harassment have been reported in 35% of companies in Switzerland, according to an international whistleblowing study.

Researchers polled nearly 1,400 companies with more than 20 employees in Switzerland, neighbouring Germany and France as well as in Britain.

The survey found the most suspected cases in companies headquartered in Germany (43% of German companies surveyed), ahead of Britain (40% of British companies) and French companies (38%). Some 35% of Swiss companies surveyed reported suspicions of embezzlement, tax fraud, money laundering or sexual harassment cases, according to a survey published on Wednesday by the university of applied sciences of Churexternal link.

The situation is worst in companies with more than 249 employees, the study authors said.

The European Parliament approved a directive in April asking companies with more than 50 employees to set up reporting offices for whistleblowing.

The percentage of companies complying with the EU directive varies between 65% in Switzerland and in Britain, and 53% and 56% in France and Germany respectively, according to the latest report.

Banks and insurance companies are apparently at the forefront compared with other sectors.

Legal loophole

There is no legal protection for whistleblowers in Switzerland, despite efforts by parliament over the past 15 years.

The latest government proposal is tabled for discussion in the House of Representatives in June, but critics argue the bill is too complicated, particularly for small companies.

The Swiss chapter of the non-governmental group Transparency International has accused parliament of a lack of willingness to take action, according to a report on Swiss public radio, SRF.

Last July a private whistleblowing platform was launched aimed at allowing people to report anonymously abuses in business, politics and administration.

A similar platform was set up in 2017 by the Federal Audit Office for employees of the government administration.

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