Swiss companies need to be more transparent in how they spend fund on government lobbying, according to a Transparency International Switzerland study supported by Ethos, the Swiss Foundation for Sustainable Development.
The February report entitled “Lobbying in Switzerland: Hidden Influences, Cross-Ownership, Privileged Access” found that lobbying in Switzerland is unregulated compared to other European countries.
An association of Swiss pension funds and institutions, Ethos pursues environmental, social and governance, or ESG, investing principles. Governance principles usually refer to corporate governance and how companies interact with public institutions.
“Since 2014, Ethos has been asking Swiss listed companies for more transparency on how they use shareholder capital as part of their political spending and lobbying,” said Ethos in a press release. “These expenses are an integral part of business ethics, an area of great importance for companies, investors and the economy as a whole.”
The report found that only 14 of the 150 largest listed Swiss companies published their political contributions last year. Thirty-six said they made no donations. Two-thirds of the companies did not report their activities.
If firms don’t publicize their political activities, citizens can’t know how they might be affecting public policy, said Transparency International Switzerland.
“It thus opens the floodgates to the risks of corruption and to harmful influences for democracy,” said the non-governmental group in a statement.
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