A former Swiss government official has been sentenced to four years and four months in prison in connection with one of the biggest corruption scandals to have hit the public sector in Switzerland.This content was published on September 17, 2021 - 16:29
The former head of department at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) oversaw procurement for the unemployment insurance data centre. He allegedly awarded overpriced IT contracts and received gifts, invitations (for example to football matches) and bribes worth more than CHF1.7 million ($1.8 million) over a period of ten years. The case first came to light in 2014 but dates back to 2004.
The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona found the 68-year-old guilty of multiple counts of forgery and corruption. He also received a fine, to be paid in daily instalments.
Three managers from private companies who profited from the scheme also received conditional custodial sentences and fines.
Handing down the sentence, the presiding judge described the former SECO employee as the “initiator and motor of the bribery network”. The man had enjoyed his role as a “generous boss” and had used the proceeds of his scheme to fund his lifestyle and prepare for his retirement.
The man’s former employer SECO had suffered reputational damage as well as material damage amounting to CHF960,000, the judge continued. The accused had “blatantly exploited” his position of trust. In addition, internal control mechanisms at SECO had failed, which had allowed the system to function in secret for such a long time, the judge added.
Commenting on the outcome, Swiss public television (SRF) economics correspondent Marcel Niedermann saidExternal link that the severity of the sentence – it was more than the four years prosecutors wanted – showed that this was one of the largest public sector corruption cases in Switzerland for several decades.