60 million loan – double role of auditing firm: criticism of GKB in the Benko case – News


The Graubünden Cantonal Bank is being investigated because of its involvement in the Benko case. Now new trouble threatens.

The Graubündner Kantonalbank GKB is involved in the bankruptcy surrounding the Austrian real estate mogul René Benko. An external investigation should provide clarity and examine the role of the GKB and its President Peter Fanconi.

But here’s the thing: The consulting firm Ernst & Young, which was commissioned to carry out the investigation, has also been the GKB’s auditor since 2008. A dual role that causes harsh criticism.


The headquarters of the Graubündner Kantonalbank in Chur.

Keystone/Gian Ehrenzeller

Banking law expert Peter V. Kunz from the University of Bern finds clear words for this dual role: “It can’t be independent at all. It’s hard to think of a worse choice for an independent investigation.”

We highly doubt that this will happen independently.

Ernst & Young is already carrying out work for GKB as an auditor. “In this respect, the company receives a lot of money for the audit work. If Ernst & Young also has to take a critical look at something, when the results are published they ask: How critical can that be?” continues Kunz.

No statement from GKB at the moment

There is also criticism of the investigation from the Graubünden SVP. The party submitted a request for next week’s session. Walter Grass, parliamentary group leader in the cantonal parliament, says: “We highly doubt that this can really happen independently.” Among other things, the government should answer whether it would be willing to commission an external investigation.

The GKB does not want to comment on the whole incident for the time being. In response to a request from Radio SRF’s Graubünden regional journal, the bank wrote: “We will comment as soon as the audit report is available.” When this will happen is difficult to estimate. Ernst & Young meets the legal and professional requirements for independence, the GKB continued.

Loan of over 60 million francs

According to media reports, Graubündner Kantonalbank appeared on a list of creditors surrounding the bankruptcy of investor René Benko. The possible loan for Benko’s Signa Group is on this list at around 60 million francs. In addition, emails from GKB President Peter Fanconi are said to show that he received advantages because he is said to have indirectly helped Benko to get loans from other cantonal banks.

Man against a black background and shadows on his face


In 2021, Forbes estimated René Benko’s fortune at $5.6 billion.

Keystone/APA/Hans Klaus Techt

René Benko filed for personal bankruptcy in March. There is a huge rat tail hanging from the bankruptcy of Benko’s empire, and numerous Swiss companies are also affected. In total, the Signa Group is said to have around five billion euros in debt.

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