Swiss public sector scandal reaches court room  

The civil servant allegedly received benefits totalling more than CHF 1.7 million. Keystone / Ti-press / Alessandro Crinari

A former Swiss government official is facing trial in connection with one of the biggest corruption scandals to have hit the public sector in recent years. 

This content was published on August 2, 2021

The trial of the former civil servant accused of corruption in the purchase of computer equipment opened at the Federal Criminal Court on Monday. Three managers from private companies are also facing charges. 

The main defendant is a former head of department at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) who oversaw procurement for the unemployment insurance data centre. The former official allegedly favoured three specific companies between 2004 and 2014, and received gifts and invitations for himself and third parties from the co-defendants. 

The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has charged the main defendant with misconduct in public office, document forgery and accepting bribes. The three company directors are charged with active bribery and, in some cases, criminal mismanagement and forgery or money laundering. 

The former SECO employee is accused of manipulating the evaluations of the tenders sent by the three companies in order to give them preference. In doing so, the 68-year-old would have impeded free competition and caused material and immaterial damage to SECO and the Swiss government.  

In return, the former civil servant allegedly received benefits totalling more than CHF 1.7 million ($1.88 million). These included invitations, the sponsorship of events, cash, and gifts such as soccer match tickets. Third parties also benefited. The trial is scheduled to last two weeks. 

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