Anti-corruption NGO slams ‘weak’ Swiss corporate crime laws
02 Mar 2021

Too few Swiss companies are made to answer for corruption or money laundering offences, exposing gaps in current legislation, says the Swiss chapter of campaigning NGO Transparency International.

The law was changed in Switzerland in 2003 to make firms criminally liable if they fail to take reasonable steps to prevent serious crimes. A new report from Transparency International (TI) Switzerland reveals that despite frequent scandals, just eight convictions have been recorded in the past 20 years.

“The shortcomings of criminal liability of companies in Switzerland are numerous and considerable,” said TI Switzerland director Martin Hilti in a statement on Monday. “Legislators and law enforcement agencies must ensure once and for all that companies are consistently held criminally accountable for misconduct.”

One of the most recent convictions was that of commodities trader Gunvor in 2019. The Office of the Attorney General imposed a CHF94 million ($103 million) sanction on the Geneva-based trader for bribery in the Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast. This comprised a CHF4 million fine and the forfeit of CHF90 million in illicitly gained profits.

Past academic studies have suggested that around 20% of Swiss companies operating abroad have experienced problems linked to corruption. This is evidence that too few convictions are taking place, says Transparency International.

The NGO complains that a maximum fine of CHF5 million is too low and that behind closed doors court proceedings are too opaque.

Read more at SWI

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