Auditors highlight Switzerland’s weak anti-corruption efforts

6 Jul 18

The Swiss government should improve measures to fight corruption by state officials and departments after actions were found to be inadequate, auditors have said.

The Swiss Federal Audit Office’s review said that “important reforms” were needed to make the anti-corruption working group, set up by the Swiss cabinet ten years ago, more effective.

Switzerland saw a number of corruption scandals this year, including at PostBus, part of the state-owned Swiss Post, which was found to have used irregular accounting practices to divert cash from its subsidised regional transport business to other parts of the business.

Switzerland set up the part-time anti-corruption working group in December 2008 after the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption called for better sharing of information and improved measures to tackle corruption among government officials.

But it was found by the Swiss Federal Audit Office review to be “inadequate” and lacking in strategy and communications.

Eric-Serge Jeannet, vice director of the federal audit office, said: “[The group is] not expert in fighting corruption. The [group] has not enough independence, budget, authority and visibility to achieve its objectives.”

He added that the group, which held anti-corruption workshops, only had a basic website and was practically unknown outside the government.

The review called for the government to set up a new independent office, with specialist officers employed to share information about possible corruption cases.

Transparency International said it shared the concerns raised by the Federal Audit Office and agreed with its recommendation to establish a more robust, independent anit-corruption office.

Alex Biscaro, deputy director of Transparency International’s Swiss office, told PF International: “In the fight against corruption, Switzerland needs an independent, strong and effective anti-corruption body with a comprehensive mandate and the necessary resources.

“This is something that the Swiss government has so far unfortunately failed to do.”

The Swiss government has said it would use the report to develop further measures in future.

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