Chairman of the Board of Directors announces comprehensive clarification of irregular accounting practices
Press release, 15 February 2018
Following the Swiss Post Board of Directors’ discussions and resolutions regarding the irregular accounting practices in segment accounting at PostBus between 2007 and 2015, Chairman of the Board of Directors Urs Schwaller has given his response to the matter. At a press conference today, he set out the immediate measures approved by the Board of Directors aimed at rectifying this serious incident. The focus of these measures is an organization specially created to manage the investigations. This organization will comprehensively clarify the matter and the various responsibilities and report directly to the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Thomas Baur’s interim leadership of PostBus will also receive additional support from a team of internal and external experts. The Board of Directors has passed a vote of confidence in CEO Susanne Ruoff. No new findings regarding clarification of the matter are currently available.
Chairman of the Board of Directors Urs Schwaller: “With its 60,000 employees, Swiss Post has enjoyed a high level of trust within Switzerland and abroad for almost 170 years and performs its nationwide universal services to an exceptional level every day. However, it has now suffered considerable damage.” Swiss Post is confronted with a situation that is unique in its history, says Urs Schwaller. “It is a systemic problem of unforeseen magnitude and a failure also by supervisory bodies spanning many years. I apologize unreservedly for this to all our staff, who perform their duties outstandingly day after day and are suffering from this crisis through no fault of their own, to our customers and to the public.” It is now necessary to clarify the matter and the various responsibilities quickly and comprehensively, and to reform the organization and processes.
At the press conference on 6 February, Swiss Post described the matter as comprehensively as was possible at that point. It will not be possible to communicate any further findings until the final report from the ongoing investigations has been released.
Swiss Post aims to create transparency
To ensure comprehensive clarification of the matter, a team of independent experts is leading the investigations. This task force reports directly to the Chairman of the Board of Directors, guaranteeing that the investigations are conducted independently and as thoroughly as necessary. This measure is also designed to accelerate the investigation into the various responsibilities. The Board of Directors expects to receive the first clear findings by May 2018.
Board of Directors passes vote of confidence in Susanne Ruoff
At its meeting yesterday, the Board of Directors passed a vote of confidence in CEO Susanne Ruoff. As already communicated, she will concentrate on the operational management of the Group, while the Chairman of the Board of Directors will take sole responsibility for the investigations. Urs Schwaller: “This procedure is extremely important to us in ensuring that we can audit the responsibilities at Executive Management level and Board of Directors level.” He also cautioned against prejudging individuals in this very complex situation.
Taking concrete measures
Swiss Post previously communicated the following measures on 6 February:
- Swiss Post will reimburse the excess compensatory payments amounting to around 78 million francs in full to the Confederation and the cantons affected.
- The Federal Office of Transport (FOT) will determine the manner in which the sum will be reimbursed.
- PostBus will present a new accounting concept for subsidized regional passenger transport to the FOT, which will then review the concept immediately. For the Board of Directors, it is vital that this is approved by mid-year.
- A compliance programme will be established to ensure compliance with subsidy law provisions.
The Board of Directors has also decided upon the following additional measures:
- A task force comprising independent experts will lead the continuing investigations at Board of Directors level and will report directly to the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
- An additional team of people will provide further support for Thomas Baur’s interim leadership of PostBus in order to safeguard operational business. The team, consisting of experts from the Finance, Human Resources, Strategy, Communication and Public Affairs units, will ensure that all approved measures are implemented in compliance with the law. PostBus Executive Management will report to this interim management team.
- For members of PostBus Executive Management, there will be no payment of the variable salary component for 2017 pending clarification of the various responsibilities.
- During the course of yesterday’s meeting, the CEO also decided to forgo payment of her variable salary component for 2017 pending clarification of the various responsibilities.
- The entire governance of PostBus will be audited and modified where necessary. Reforms to structures and supervisory bodies are a part of this process.
- PostBus’s strategy will be subject to a fundamental audit.
- Investment in future proposals and projects at PostBus will be re-evaluated and audited carefully. New acquisition projects will be cancelled.
- PostBus’s unit target for the financial year 2018 will be adjusted. There will be no EBIT target for PostBus.
The succession planning for PostBus leadership is ongoing, and the external arrangements for succession are scheduled to be communicated within the next few weeks.
Swiss Post Media Unit, +41 58 341 00 00, firstname.lastname@example.org