SWITZERLAND - A magistrate investigating the past financial woes of the city of Fribourg's pension fund has indicted the city's treasurer and three other treasury employees, accusing them of falsifying accounting documents.

In a statement, Swiss magistrate Olivier Thormann said Fribourg treasurer Pierre-Alain Clément and the three employees had "improperly described the pension fund's financial situation between 2000 and 2003".

Thormann based his accusations on the fund's accounting reports for that period.

"I have to assume that this was done intentionally," said Thormann, adding the four accused would appear before him to prove their innocence.

If Thormann finds them guilty, Clément and his colleagues will face financial penalties, though they have the right to appeal a guilty verdict.

The pension fund in question insures civil servants for Fribourg, a city of 33,600 inhabitants. The scheme previously suffered gross underfunding and its coverage ratio fell to 33% in 2003 - one of the lowest figures ever for Swiss schemes.

This scheme was eventually saved from insolvency in January 2006, when the government for the canton of Fribourg provided a CHF39m (€18.3m) cash injection. As a condition of the bailout, the canton ordered a full investigation of the scheme's finances and accounting.

A month later, a special commission unveiled a report placing part of the blame for the pension fund's troubles on Dominique de Buman, the scheme's trustee between 1991 and 2004.

However, the commission did not find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing on de Buman's part. The former trustee also dismissed the commission's report as "worthless" at the time.

Thormann said despite de Buman's past mismanagement of Fribourg pension fund, he had decided not to bring formal charges against the former trustee.

De Buman interpreted Thormann's move as a full vindication of his stewardship of the scheme. "I'm very pleased even if not altogether surprised. I've been saying all along that I'm innocent," he said.