Partner content: Swiss businesses and the fight against corruption

Corruption also affects Swiss businesses, and the Swiss Confederation provides them with practical support to avoid it, especially abroad.


Situation in Switzerland

Corruption is generally defined as the abuse of power for private purposes. According to the Swiss Criminal Code (art. 322ter to 322decies), corruption is the act whereby a person grants or offers an undue advantage in order to induce a person to perform an act that is contrary to their duties or dependent on their discretion. The solicitation or acceptance of an undue advantage in exchange for such an act is also considered to constitute a corruption offence. 

The Swiss judiciary also punishes perpetrators of acts of corruption abroad, such as paying a bribe to a public official. Only “facilitating payments” made for the performance of an official act that one is entitled to expect are not illegal under Swiss law, even if they are not recommended.

Due in particular to the strong interconnection of the Swiss economy with the global economy, businesses are exposed to extortion attempts, for example to be awarded a contract, obtain a service, open a subsidiary or repatriate profits.

What is the Swiss Confederation doing in practice to support businesses in the fight against corruption?

Federal Administration leading by example

By adopting an anti-corruption strategy in December 2020, the Federal Council reaffirmed its commitment to fighting corruption. The Federal Administration maintains an online platform to report irregularities and suspicions of corruption and invites anyone with information to make use of it.

At the international level, Switzerland is committed to transparency in payments linked to the extraction and trading of natural resources; it also cooperates closely with the judicial and law enforcement authorities of other states. 

Information for businesses

The Swiss Confederation ensures that businesses, particularly those operating abroad, are informed of the norms and standards aimed at combating corruption, in particular good practices for preventing acts of corruption. The brochure “Preventing corruption” published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) presents the practical measures that a business must take to prevent corruption:

  1. Get informed: any anti-corruption strategy starts with good information. Where and in what forms does corruption appear? Does the company’s economic and geographic environment pose particular risks? What measures should be taken to prevent corruption?
  2. Take appropriate action: anti-corruption measures must be tailored to the size and structure of each business, as well as to the countries and industries involved. They include the following measures:
  • Organizational measures: ensure transparency of internal processes; define and frame competencies; analyze and reduce objective risks, including dual checks.
  • Measures concerning personnel and management: a clear prohibition of any irregular practices (“tone from the top“); awareness-raising among all employees from the outset and at regular intervals; special attention should be paid to employees who are most at risk, those working in the procurement of contracts, IT services, etc.; a contact point should be set up to report irregularities, if possible guaranteeing the anonymity of the informants.
  • Control and corrective measures: Test employees’ knowledge levels regularly; correct identified weaknesses; carry out regular audits.
  1. Adopt an anti-corruption code of conduct: awareness-raising among employees and implementation of agreed measures are key factors. Various versions of anti-corruption codes of conduct are available on the internet to guide businesses.

Practical support in cases of corruption

The Swiss Confederation provides practical support to companies abroad. This support is provided by Swiss representations abroad, which provide information on the local market, the rules and practices in force in the country, the networks of contacts and even the local anti-corruption authorities, etc.

In the event of local difficulties – such as solicitation of bribes, preference for unscrupulous competitors, impediments to the development of economic relations – the representations may provide advice, offer the services of legal counsel or even arrange an official intervention with the relevant government agencies in the host country. 

Information and preparedness are the basic essentials in the fight against corporate corruption. Further information can be found on the websites of the SECO and the FDFA; for further advice, please contact


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