Swiss corruption saga continues as media storm gathers over Complementa
SWITZERLAND - The Swiss media has swarmed around yet another player in the ongoing corruption scandal involving the civil servants pension fund for the canton of Zurich (BVK).
A number of print and TV stories in the country this week have centred on the consultancy Complementa.
Complementa, according to the Swiss BVK's annual report for 2009, is the fund's investment controller and has held this position at least since 2004 - the oldest annual report available on the pension fund's website.
Some Swiss newspapers have accused Complementa of holding a dual role as controller and consultant on the fund, while others have alleged negligence in the controlling.
Swiss TV channel SF, summing up a story it ran earlier this week, wrote: "On [Complementa's] watch, the former head of asset management at the BVK was allegedly bribed.
"The controlling of Complementa also permitted the BVK to award an unusual number of external mandates for relatively small asset classes - the so-called small and mid-cap area - whose share prices are easily manipulated."
Fund prospectuses issued by private equity company BT & T, whose head has also been arrested, named Complementa as the service provider for daily net asset value calculations of BT & T funds.
However, Michael Brandenberger, head of Complementa, told IPE the current allegations in the Swiss media have been made "lacking knowledge of the actual situation".
"Other than that," he added, "I am still not allowed to make any statement on the actual situation concerning the BVK - as much as I would like to do so."
Pension fund expert Peter Wirth, who heads the Vorsorgeforum, an association of pension funds, unions and employer representatives, had harsh criticism for the media.
"The Neue Zürcher Zeitung issuing a general suspicion just based on the amount of money saved up in the second pillar is going too far," he said.
"And the Tages-Anzeiger publishing a photo of the suspect's villa has to be filed under sensationalism."
Earlier this month, the head of asset management at the BVK was arrested for alleged corruption and misconduct and later sacked by the fund. (see earlier IPE story: BT&T's Meier arrested in connection with canton of Zurich pension fund scandal)
Meanwhile, the BVK has named Thomas Liebi, head of investment research, as interim head of asset management.