Businessman Ziegler sentenced for insider trading

Ziegler, pictured in 2014. Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller

The Federal Criminal Court handed businessman Hans Ziegler a two-year suspended sentence on Tuesday for charges including insider trading. A co-defendant was given a year suspended.

This content was published on June 22, 2021 - 19:16

The court found Ziegler and the unnamed co-defendant – a former director of an international consultancy firm – guilty of industrial espionage, disclosing trade secrets, and insider trading.

The case goes back to when Ziegler was sitting on the board of the OC Oerlikon engineering technology company between 2013 and 2016. The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which brought the case, accused the businessman of disclosing trade secrets to the co-accused, including about the sale of a subsidiary to a foreign buyer who the latter was advising at the time.

In the verdict issued on Tuesday, the criminal court explained that it had opted for a more lenient sentence than what the OAG had demanded (a five-year full prison term for Ziegler) due to its evaluation of the acts as mild to middle-serious, rather than “serious”, as the OAG saw them.

The court said furthermore that it didn’t want to use the case as an example to hand down a disincentivising heavy sentence. It also said the damage to Ziegler’s reputation is likely to “weigh heavier than all punishments”.

Ziegler was also handed a fine of CHF10,000 ($10,885), and must pay CHF770,000 into a compensation fund.

In 2017, he was ordered by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to pay back CHF1.4 million after being accused of using knowledge gained from his business positions to make stock market gains; it was the highest amount ever requested returned as a result of insider trading.

In Wednesday’s verdict, Ziegler was cleared of a separate charge of passive bribery.

The verdict can yet be appealed.

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