Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland: Annual report 2021
Bern, 19.04.2022 - In 2021, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) secured landmark court judgments that point the way for Swiss case law, as well as bringing numerous cases to their conclusion.
38 judgements at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona
In 2021, a total of 38 first instance judgments were obtained at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona. The judgments related to 56 accused, 44 of whom were convicted. This high number, above the average for the previous years, was due to the large number of indictments filed the previous year.Two judgments were of crucial importance to the OAG and legal precedent in Switzerland. Firstly, there was the very first conviction in proceedings conducted in Switzerland in the field of international criminal law. The accused, the former commander of a Liberian militia, was sentenced by the Federal Criminal Court to the maximum penalty. In its judgment, the court followed the outcome proposed by the OAG.
And in the field of white-collar crime a financial institution was convicted for the first time on the basis of Article 102 Criminal Code ("corporate criminal liability"). The bank concerned was found guilty of failures to guarantee an appropriate separation of duties, to provide effective independent supervision of high-risk business relationships, and to avoid conflicts of interest.
Among the other convictions secured was that of a SECO employee in a case of corruption involving public officials. The report year also saw the very first conviction of a person for using explosives to blow an ATM open.
Indictments filed and judgments handed down in cases of public interest
In 2021, further progress was made in the concluding phase, begun the previous year, of the proceedings relating to world football. In November 2021, charges were brought against the former president of FIFA (Joseph Blatter) and the former president of UEFA (Michel Platini).
With the filing of the indictment in the Federal Criminal Court, the OAG has concluded another investigation within the “FIFA complex”.
Overall, the number the cases concluded in 2021 remained high – the OAG issued around 800 final rulings (1) and completed around 250 mutual assistance cases.
Forfeitures and compensation of over CHF 700 million
In line with its guiding principle that crime should never pay, in the past year the OAG obtained court judgments for forfeitures and compensation claims worth over CHF 700 million. The largest part of this sum was made up of forfeitures and compensation claims from two major case (2). The related decisions of the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Criminal Court (3) were taken in the previous year, but became legally binding in the report year.
The final decision on how these amounts are actually paid out is taken when these forfeitures and compensation claims are enforced. The amount that may be due to the Swiss Confederation can only be ascertained once it is clear how much must be paid to the victims of the crimes and under any ‘sharing’ procedures.
OAG able to guarantee operations at all times
The report year saw a 14 per cent increase in the number of investigations opened in comparison with the previous year. Almost all the appeals filed against OAG decisions in the courts were either rejected or not even considered; in the Federal Supreme Court, the OAG’s success rate on appeal was just under 99%, in the Federal Criminal Court around 96% and in the Appeals Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court an impressive 100%.
Overall, the figures confirm that that the OAG was fully operational and fulfilled its statutory mandate at all times despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the position of Attorney General of Switzerland remained vacant. This was made possible by the commendable dedication of the OAG’s employees and their reliable and effective cooperation with partner organisations.
(1) Summary penalty orders, orders abandoning proceeds and decisions to take no proceedings
(2) See OAG Annual Report for 2020 p.24 (No 5), 2018, p. 10 (No 4.4, ‘MUS’) and 2017, p. 20 (No 4.7, Money laundering case involving Uzbekistan)
(3)Federal Supreme Court Judgment 6B_67/2019 of 16 December 2020; Decision SN.2020.34 of 3 December 2020 by the Criminal Chamber of the Federal Criminal Court
Address for enquiries
Communication Service of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, Tel. +41 58 464 32 40, email@example.com
Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland