A check of internal tax documents from a construction group once headed by Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann has revealed no indication of wrongdoing. Canton Bern tax authorities carried out the investigation.
A subsidiary of the Ammann Group based in Jersey was placed under investigation by the tax office in late January. Swiss public television, SRF, reported that at the end of 2008, the company held CHF264 million ($295 million) in Jersey and that it transferred the funds to Switzerland in 2009, one year before Schneider-Ammann was elected to the cabinet.
The group had also held funds in Luxembourg which were later transferred to Switzerland.
In a press release, the Ammann Group, which belongs to the family of Schneider-Ammann’s wife, wrote that it had received the results of the tax authorities’ investigation and that they showed no evidence of wrongdoing. Furthermore, no information was uncovered which the tax authorities did not already know about.
Schneider-Ammann was “satisfied” at the results of the investigation. He had denied all wrongdoing from the beginning, declaring himself “at ease with the investigation”.
The economics minister’s party, the centre-right Radicals, re-affirmed its trust in him after Friday’s announcement. However, others believe the investigation didn’t go far enough.
“It’s surprising that the Ammann Group is acting as the spokesperson for the cantonal authorities, the finance commission and the tax authorities (in this matter),” commented parliamentarian Marget Kiener Nellen, whose centre-left Social Democratic party has called for an independent investigation into the funds and for Schneider-Ammann to make public how much the Ammann Group had paid in taxes.
That information is kept private under Swiss tax secrecy laws. The canton Bern tax authorities did not take a position on the investigation when asked to comment. However, the tax office did say it would be open to a third-party investigation of the Ammann Group’s finances.
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