Fighting Corruption in Switzerland: Companies Need Strict Rules

The largest listed companies in Switzerland are committed to fighting corruption. However, major differences are observed in the implementation of anti-corruption policies. This particularly relates to issues not sufficiently regulated under Swiss law. In order to enable companies to strengthen their anti-corruption systems, this legal uncertainty should be lifted. This is the major recommendation highlighted by the survey published today by Ethos and Transparency International Switzerland regarding the legal framework surrounding corruption and related practices by Swiss companies.

ECGS partner, Ethos, and Transparency International Switzerland are issuing today, in the framework of International Anti-Corruption Day, a survey on the fight against corruption in Switzerland. The survey focuses on the current legal framework as well as on the efforts of the 20 largest listed (Swiss Market Index - SMI) Swiss companies in this field.

Companies against corruption: self-regulation has its limits

The survey observed that SMI companies implement many best practices in fighting corruption. In accordance with Swiss law, all companies investigated have introduced strategies to fight public corruption. However, the significant shortcomings observed in the measures taken to face certain forms of corruption demonstrate that self-regulation has its limits. Among the most pressing issues are private corruption, indirect corruption (i.e. via agents or intermediaries), facilitation payments and political funding. Consequently, only a strengthening of Swiss legislation, in line with the more stringent regulations in force in the USA and in the UK, may enable all Swiss companies to take appropriate measures in order to adequately combat all forms of corruption.

Strengthening of Swiss law needed to fight corruption

Switzerland has successfully integrated relevant international instruments to fight corruption in the public sector into its national legislation. However, Ethos and Transparency International believe that the legal framework should be strengthened. In particular, it should also cover corruption between companies of the private sector. The impact of private corruption on society and the economy is no less detrimental than that of public corruption. The standards at the root of this legislative upgrade already exist and have steered the anti-corruption principles and policies adopted by a vast number of companies. Civil society and institutional investors are not alone in considering that such an improvement in the regulatory framework is a must: many of the companies themselves would like to see the development of a level playing field applicable in a uniform and fair fashion to all the players in the global economy.