Parliament probe clears Swiss minister in blackmail affair

Berset, who's known for his elegant dressing styles, has been interior minister since 2012. Keystone/Peter Schneider

The Swiss parliament has exonerated Interior Minister Alain Berset of abusing state resources to handle an attempt by a citizen to blackmail him.

This content was published on June 14, 2022 - 15:26

The control committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Tuesday said Berset was justified in using an official car to return from a private visit to Germany and that the hotel expenses were paid by himself.

The committees also cleared the judiciary and police of allegations that they violated due process of the law because of Berset’s status and that they used disproportionate means against the citizen.

The allegations were first reported by the Weltwoche weekly in 2020, saying an unidentified woman had been fined for threatening to make public letters and photographs unless Berset paid CHF100,000 ($100,680).

The blackmail attempt happened in November 2019 and the fine was handed out in September 2020 after Berset issued a criminal complaint against his alleged former lover.

Several parliamentary sub-committees had been investigating the claims since last October.

Berset, whose portfolio includes health matters, has been the dominant figure in the Swiss government during the Covid pandemic but critics, mainly on the political right,  have accused him of "dictatorial attitudes".

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