Public transport companies are believed to have received too many subsidies. The Federal Office of Transport opens criminal proceedings.
The Federal Office of Transport becomes active after the subsidy fraud. As announced on Thursday morning, the BAV opened criminal proceedings in the cases of the BLS and Bus Ostschweiz. This happened at the behest of two court rulings, which clarified that proceedings in the case of suspected subsidy fraud should be conducted by the BAV. It is said that where there is evidence of criminal activity, criminal proceedings must be carried out in addition to the repayment.
In the “Postbus scandal”, the Federal Council commissioned the Fedpol with the procedure, in the case of the Lucerne transport company the local public prosecutor’s office led the procedure because it was mainly about municipal and cantonal funds. It was not yet clear who was responsible in the case of BLS and Bus Ostschweiz.
BLS wrongly received 43 million
In spring 2020 it became known that BLS had not budgeted for sales of half-fare travelcards in the “Libero” network for several years. As a result, the transport company received excessive payments from the federal government and the cantons for regional passenger transport.
An investigation came to the conclusion that the Half-Fare travelcard receipts were deliberately not disclosed – the federal government filed a criminal complaint. The BLS had to pay back CHF 43 million to the Federal Office of Transport. According to the investigation report, management had known about this for a long time, at least since March 2017. As a result, the then BLS boss Bernard Guillelmon resigned.
The alleged subsidy fraud is to be clarified in more detail. Now the Federal Criminal Court decided that the Federal Office of Transport has to take care of it, and not the Bernese public prosecutor’s office.
With a trick to more subsidies
Bus Ostschweiz AG is said to have sold buses that had already been written off to a subsidiary in the past. Then they are said to have rented the buses back to the parent company. The company is said to have received too many subsidies.
A financial control of the canton of St. Gallen uncovered the fraud. He demands 9.5 million francs back from Bus Ostschweiz AG and also wants to get rid of his majority shareholding. The government recently called for the Board of Directors to be dismissed, but this failed at the General Assembly in early June.