Switzerland in the crosshairs for its weak anti-corruption system
Switzerland, long perceived as a bastion of neutrality and stability in Europe, today finds itself in the spotlight of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) due to its deficit in the protection of whistleblowers. , particularly in the private sector. The OECD, like the World Organization for Anti-Corruption Security (OMSAC), believes that Switzerland must take urgent measures to strengthen its whistleblower protection system and intensify its fight against corruption.
The Swiss Council of States recently adopted a motion, initiated by Ruedi Noser of the Radical Liberal Party (PLR), aimed at relaunching the debate on the protection of whistleblowers in the private sector. This decision comes only two years after the failure of a Swiss Federal Council project in this area. Members of the Swiss Parliament have recognized the need to strengthen rules to effectively protect people who dare to denounce corruption and reprehensible practices within companies.
The OECD is increasingly criticizing Switzerland for its weak anti-corruption system and its lack of adherence to two specific recommendations: the protection of whistleblowers in the private sector and the increase in the maximum penalty provided for. by law in cases of corruption. Switzerland today finds itself isolated in Europe by not having a binding legal framework for the protection of whistleblowers, while many European countries have already put such measures in place.
OMSAC, an independent global organization specializing in the fight against corruption and the protection of whistleblowers, has long drawn attention to the situation in Switzerland. In 2021, the OMSAC had already denounced the lack of binding measures to protect whistleblowers and had highlighted that Switzerland was poorly ranked in the world ranking for the fight against corruption.
Ruedi Noser, author of the motion, insists that Switzerland can no longer afford to lag behind when it comes to protecting whistleblowers. He believes that strengthening the rules is necessary to detect earlier cases of corruption which also exist in the Swiss economy.
However, the road to political consensus in Switzerland does not yet seem to be mapped out. Parliament had previously rejected the Federal Council's draft on whistleblowers, arguing that it would not guarantee real protection to the workers concerned. The plan called for a three-tiered cascade structure, including requiring the employee to first report problems to the employer, then to an authority, and as a last resort, to the public.
Thomas Minder, member of the Swiss Parliament, is in favor of better protection for whistleblowers, but is opposed to a revision of the sanctions regime. Nevertheless, despite heated debates, Swiss senators approved both the motion aimed at strengthening the protection of whistleblowers and the one advocating increased sanctions for companies. The National Council will still have to decide on these questions.
The head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Elisabeth Baume-Schneider, stressed the importance of taking concrete measures to fight corruption. She said Switzerland should report on legislative progress by the end of 2024. In the absence of significant progress, the OECD could consider sending a high-level mission to Switzerland. International pressure is intensifying, and Switzerland is now under observation in the European context.
This delicate situation in Switzerland highlights the crucial importance of protecting whistleblowers in the fight against corruption on a global scale. OMSAC, which works tirelessly to promote transparency and integrity, fully supports efforts to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers in Switzerland and around the world.
OMSAC Press & Media Department