SWITZERLAND - Major differences in the implementation of anti-corruption policies by Swiss companies have emerged in a survey by the Ethos Foundation and Transparency International Switzerland, particularly relating to issues not sufficiently regulated under Swiss law.
The survey, entitled 'Fight against Corruption in Switzerland: Survey of the Legal Framework and Best Practices of Listed Companies', found that companies in the Swiss Market Index (SMI) 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 had its limits. Among the most pressing issues was private corruption, as well as indirect corruption via agents or intermediaries, facilitation payments and political funding.
The impact of private corruption on society and the economy was no less detrimental than that of public corruption, according to Ethos. 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, the foundation said.
Ethos called for a strengthening of Swiss legislation, in line with the more stringent regulations in force in the USA and in the UK, which may enable all Swiss companies to take appropriate measures in order to adequately combat all forms of corruption.
The survey - published today on International Anti-Corruption Day - focuses on the current legal framework as well as on the efforts of the 20 largest listed SMI Swiss companies in this field.
The NOK3trn (€388bn) Norwegian Pension Fund Global (NPFG) recently placed France's infrastructure giant Alstom on a four-year observation list over what the Norwegian ministry of finance deemed the "risk of gross corruption", following a recommendation from the council to also exclude the company from NPFG's universe.
One of Alstom's subsidiaries, Alstom Network Schweiz, was last month ordered to pay a CHF39m (€31m) fine and compensation payment, following a long-running corruption probe in which Swiss federal prosecutors alleged the company had failed to take measures preventing bribery of foreign officials.