OECD says Switzerland must do more to tackle bribery and protect whistleblowers

Switzerland must urgently do more to protect whistleblowers and stop money laundering and bribery.

After a year-long investigation, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) said that companies, lawyers and trustees operating in Switzerland must face tougher penalties for perpetrating or facilitating bribery taking place abroad.

The OECD said Switzerland “presents a specific risk of corruption” because of a large number of public international organisations and an outsized financial sector providing services for overseas clients. Despite hosting international industries which have significant potential for corruption, such as commodities trading, Switzerland has no legal framework to protect whistleblowers.

The organisation also found out that not a single case of foreign bribery has been brought to local Swiss law enforcement agencies in any of its cantons by a whistleblower. Internationally, company insiders who alert authorities to wrongdoing are seen as vital in the battle against corruption. They have been instrumental in a number of recent high-profile data leaks that have shone a light into the sometimes shady world of offshore finance.

Long famed for its secretive banks and as a hub for clandestine financial activity, Switzerland has been attempting to clear up its image in recent years after a string of scandals, but the latest report found an “almost universal mistrust” of whistleblowers in the country, stemming from “extremely entrenched opinions on this matter that point to strong, deep-rooted cultural resistance to people who support suspicions of wrongdoing”.

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