BERN: The Swiss government is proposing to tighten anti-corruption laws, citing international sporting federations based in the country as targets of the suggested changes.
FIFA is one of 30 international sporting bodies based in Switzerland and has been hit by a number of high-profile corruption scandals in recent years.
The Swiss government has commissioned a report into the problem amid concern about how scandals concerning sports bodies affect the country’s reputation.
On Wednesday the cabinet opened a public consultation into its proposal that corruption in private organisations should be considered an offence under the penal code.
Under Swiss law, corruption is currently only considered an offence if it involves government officials or distorts market competition.
“Switzerland is among the countries least affected by corruption and has effective legislation in this regard,” said a government statement. “But suspicions of corruption in the awarding of the hosting of major sporting events have revealed the weaknesses which exist in the field of private corruption.”
Under the public consultation, Switzerland’s cantons, political parties and all parties affected by the proposed legislation have until September 5 to make comments and suggestions.
The federal department of justice will then analyse the answers and present further proposals, before the government decides whether to send the bill to parliament.
The government statement added: “In the absence of a classic situation of concurrence, acts of corruption between private parties are not punished. This situation has been increasingly discussed in view of the constant events of corruption observed in the international sporting federations. Because of this, private corruption should be regulated within the penal code and should no longer depend on a situation of concurrence.
“For example, acts of corruption committed in the awarding of the organisation of big sporting events should be punishable.”
Wednesday’s development comes after former FIFA Independent Governance Committee member Alexandra Wrage last month called on the Swiss government to intervene in the reform of world football’s governing body, stating that the work of the IGC has “done little more than polish the veneer on an outdated men’s club”.
Wrage, writing for Forbes, said: “The IGC has never had any means to compel FIFA to change. The only entity capable of insisting on transparency at FIFA is the Swiss government, to which FIFA’s unapologetic opacity should be as embarrassing as its $1.4 billion in tax-free reserves are interesting. I hope they will act.”
FIFA said in a statement that it would have to analyse the government’s proposal before commenting.
It added: “FIFA welcomes initiatives that make a concrete contribution in the fight against corruption as they represent a fundamental support for its own governance process.”
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