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PostBus Switzerland Ltd received excess compensatory payments

Communication dated 06.02.2018

During an audit of accounting of services at PostBus Switzerland Ltd, the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) found evidence of accounting practices that do not comply with the law. In view of these audit findings, Swiss Post initiated enquiries by independent experts in November 2017 concerning financial reporting under subsidy law at the Swiss Post subsidiary PostBus Switzerland Ltd. Both the FOT and Swiss Post have concluded that PostBus Switzerland Ltd used accounting practices that do not comply with subsidy law in the period from 2007 to 2015 and, as a result, received excessively high compensation for the provision of public transport services. Swiss Post management has already undertaken relevant measures, and PostBus will reimburse the Confederation and the cantons in full for the unlawful compensatory payments.

During the course of an ordinary audit, the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) examined auditing practices at PostBus Switzerland Ltd. As a result, irregularities concerning financial reporting under subsidy law on regional passenger transport procured during the period 2007 to 2015 were identified at PostBus. This led the CEO of Swiss Post to immediately launch independent enquiries to investigate the matter in detail.

The initial results of these enquiries confirm the FOT’s findings that the financial accounting under subsidy law at PostBus Switzerland Ltd did not comply with legal provisions during the period 2007 to 2015. PostBus Switzerland Ltd carried out irregular accounting transfers amounting to 78.3 million Swiss francs, which equates to around 3 percent of the total compensation received during this period. PostBus will reimburse this amount in full to the Confederation and cantons. The unlawfully received compensation was used within the PostBus organization for ongoing operations and investment. As far as has been currently ascertained, no personal benefits were gained by individuals.

Swiss Post’s management undertakes measures

“I regret that irregular accounting of services took place at PostBus Switzerland Ltd over a number of years,” says Swiss Post CEO Susanne Ruoff. “Swiss Post and its subsidiaries must comply with all legal provisions without exception. It is vitally important to us that the Confederation and the cantons can be confident that PostBus is a fair and trustworthy business partner for regional public transport.”

Swiss Post management aims to create full transparency. It will seek dialogue with all authorities concerned immediately and clarify the facts on a case-by-case basis. Swiss Post’s internal investigations, which are being conducted by external experts, have not yet been concluded. They will continue for several more months.

Based on the findings of the ongoing enquiries thus far, Swiss Post has already reached a number of decisions regarding immediate measures:

  • Over the coming weeks, Swiss Post and PostBus will review the current accounting concept which was introduced in 2016 and will have it audited by the FOT.
  • In accordance with instructions issued by Swiss Post Executive Management, a compliance programme will be established to ensure compliance with subsidy law provisions.
  • The appointment of a separate Board of Directors for PostBus Ltd, which will include proven experts in the field of public transport, is under consideration.
  • The CEO and Head of PostBus have jointly decided to bring forward the planned departure of the Head of PostBus, which had already been communicated, from the end of April to 5 February 2018.
  • The Head of Finance at PostBus was also discharged from his operational duties on the same date.
  • These steps clear the way for a comprehensive investigation into the matter.
  • Thomas Baur will take over the management of PostBus Ltd on an interim basis with immediate effect. He will also continue his duties as Head of the PostalNetwork business unit and a Member of Executive Management at Swiss Post. The procedure to appoint a new Head of PostBus is ongoing.

The independent enquiries by external experts will continue at Swiss Post, to ensure that the matter is investigated comprehensively. The enquiries are expected to be completed in the summer. Executive Management may take further steps depending upon the outcome.

Please refer to the FOT documents for the exact content of the audit report and Swiss Post’s accompanying statement.

Please note: Following the press conference by the Federal Office of Transport (FOT), members of top management Susanne Ruoff, CEO, and Alex Glanzmann, Head of Finance, will make a statement on the matter and the measures undertaken and will be available for interviews today at 10.30 a.m. at Swiss Post’s headquarters in Wankdorf.

Information:
Léa Wertheimer, Swiss Post Media Unit, +41 58 341 08 84, presse@swisspost.ch