The entire board of management at the time of the Swissair 'grounding' - Schmidheiny, Muhlemann, Sporri, Hentsch, Corti etc. - along with Bruggisser and some of his henchmen have today been charged with: (rough translation) 'forgery, cheating, dishonesty and falsifying accounts'.
It's headline news on the internet editions of the two leading Swiss newspapers, www.nzz.ch and www.tages-anzeiger.ch
Let's hope that the whole rotten bunch are put down for a long time and that they are made to pay full compensation from their considerable private fortunes.
Thanks for the information, Chris. I totally agree with you.
By ONNA CORAY, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 58 minutes ago
BUELACH, Switzerland - All 19 managers and consultants accused in the collapse of former national carrier Swissair were acquitted Thursday and will receive compensation totaling more than $2 million, the leading judge said.
The defendants in Switzerland's largest corporate trial all had denied charges that included damaging creditors, mismanagement, making false business statements and forging documents. Some have blamed the big Swiss banks and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for the airline's downfall.
Prosecutors had requested a six-month prison sentence for Mario Corti, the last chief executive of now-defunct Swissair, and a range of suspended sentences for 18 other airline executives, board members and consultants.
Prosecutors can appeal the acquittal within the next 10 days.
The carrier was grounded abruptly on Oct. 2, 2001, after months of financial problems led to it being unable to pay for fuel and landing fees.
Tens of thousands of passengers were stranded worldwide. Thousands of employees and shareholders lost their life savings, and the country's four main political parties demanded that former executives be held responsible.
Urs Eicher, speaking on behalf of a flight attendants union, criticized the high compensations that tax payers would ultimately have to pay.
"Those who suffered real damage, the small people who lost jobs or pension funds in the Swissair bankruptcy, will get nothing," he told Swiss TV.
In the trial at a Zurich district court, most of the defendants had refused to answer the prosecution's questions for fear it could jeopardize parallel civil proceedings brought by former employees and shareholders seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.
Speaking on behalf of myself, I feel that some of these people made poor decisions that led to the horrific demise of 229 people. Why is it that nobody in the former airline, is being held accountable, for the decision to buy the IFEN (entertainment system), which ultimately led to the chain of events that killed 229 people? Or the fact that the airline was notified that the mylar insulation was a fire hazard, prior to the crash and nothing was done to replace it?
And here is something the airline attendants should think about. It wasn't only the passengers who's lives where put at risk. Far better to lose your job than your life.
8. June 2007, Swissinfo
Press echo indignation over Swissair verdict
The Swiss press have reflected general frustration over the acquittal of all 19 defendants in the Swissair trial, while describing the ruling as predictable.
On Thursday a Zurich court cleared the former Swissair managers and advisors of bringing down the airline with criminal malpractice, and awarded compensation totalling more than SFr3 million ($2.5 million).
While certain papers called the decision "scandalous" and a "fiasco", others were more balanced and focused their attacks on the weaknesses of the Swiss criminal law system.
A majority of commentators denounced the fact that incompetence and arrogance were not punishable and reserved particular criticism for the work of the public prosecutor.
"The prosecutor had a difficult job to do and he did it very badly," wrote the daily Tages:Anzeiger newspaper, adding that his arguments had been "brutally taken apart" before the court.
This position was also supported by the Zurich:based Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Bern's Bund, which claimed the charges were so weak that the trial only took place as a result of outside pressure.
"Here in Switzerland it's still not a crime to be stupid and incompetent. To make management errors even with the best intentions in the world is not punishable by Swiss criminal law," wrote the French:speaking tabloid Le Matin.
"But in the economic world the worst punishment is a damaged reputation... and [in this respect] the former Swissair bosses are 'finished'," it added.
The Tribune de GenÃ¨ve and 24heures newspapers from the French:speaking region were equally harsh.
"Everything is forgiven. Even economic ineptitude!" read their headlines. "The Swiss legal system is incredibly offensive."
For the Basler Zeitung the Swissair bosses were incapable of saving the airline when it got into difficulties but "incompetence is not punishable".
Which for the Bund is a good thing: "Otherwise every other manager would have one foot in prison."
The mass:circulation Blick makes a comparison with business scandals in the United States, in particular at Enron and Worldcom: "We have a lot to learn from the US in this area by strengthening our laws and legal proceedings."
The Fribourg:based Le Courier newspaper resumed many other commentators' thoughts about the predictability of the decision: "The powerlessness of the Swiss legal system has once again exploded in public."
"Criminal law can do nothing when faced with business crimes," added the French:speaking regional newspapers L'Express and L'Impartial.
The court's legal verdict itself does not raise too many questions among the editorialists.
"Mistakes were made which were punished by financial ruin, therefore, from a legal point of view none of the 19 accused has incurred a penalty," wrote the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
And for the Lucerne:based Neue Lucerne Zeitung the judge had had no other option than to clear the 19 defendants.
While certain observers criticise the waste of taxpayers' money, the French:speaking Le Temps newspaper welcomes the fact that the trial took place, as it contributed indirectly to bringing to light the "considerable errors" made by the management.
"The acquittal does not mean that the defendants are not responsible," it adds, while looking ahead to the civil cases being brought against the Swissair managers which might cost the former bosses "hundreds of millions" of Swiss francs.
swissinfo, Simon Bradley
Swissair execs cleared in criminal trial
by Michael Bradford
Posted on June 08, 2007 5:32 AM CST
Print this ArticleE-mail this ArticleWrite to EditorsDiscuss Article OnlineBULACH, Switzerland"” Former executives of failed airline Swissair have been cleared of criminal charges but some still face civil lawsuits that could take years to resolve.
The 19 former Swissair executives, directors and consultants were acquitted by a court in Bulach, Switzerland on June 7 of charges that they defrauded creditors, falsified documents, made false statements and committed other acts that led to the airline's collapse in 2001.
The defendants also were awarded 3 million Swiss francs ($2.4 million) by the court to cover their costs in the litigation. Such payments are allowed under Swiss law to defendants who are acquitted.
The acquittal does not, however, end some of the defendants' legal problems. Filippo Beck, a partner with the Zurich law firm Wenger Plattner, said his firm has filed civil suits that name some of the same defendants that faced criminal charges, although he did not identify which former executives are part of the civil action.
"Three civil suits against management and members of the board are pending and are at different stages," said Mr. Beck. "We are considering filing eight additional suits." The civil suits seek hundreds of millions of Swiss francs on behalf of creditors that include SAirGroup and Flightlease A.G.
The civil suits will not be impacted by the criminal court's recent decision, according to Mr. Beck. "The criminal prosecutor has to show intent; for a civil claim, you just have to show negligence," he explained.
It is unclear how long the civil suits could take to resolve, but Mr. Beck pointed out that, with appeals, the process could be lengthy. "It could take several years before we have a decision," he said.
After its collapse, Swissair's remains were used to form a new national carrier called Swiss. That airline was taken over by Lufthansa in 2005.
Prosecutor lodges appeal in Swissair case Wed Jun 13, 2:44 PM ET
GENEVA (AFP) - A Swiss prosecutor on Wednesday lodged an appeal against the acquittal of former executives and directors of Swissair last week on mismanagement charges, following the spectacular collapse of the airline six years ago.
Zurich cantonal prosecutor Christian Weber said in a statement that he had appealed against all of the main points in the verdict by the district court in nearby Buelach on June 7.
The appeal will be heard by the cantonal court in Zurich at a date that has yet to be fixed.
Nineteen former board members, senior executives and consultants -- including former chief executives Philipp Bruggisser, Mario Corti, and Credit Suisse ex-chief Lukas Muehlemann -- were cleared on charges relating to mismanagement and in some instances false accounting.
Most of them were awarded costs and compensation for moral tort ranging up to 488,000 Swiss francs (305,000 euros, 412,000 dollars).
The former carrier's parent, SAirgroup, plunged into financial trouble in 2001, leading to one of Switzerland's most spectauclar bankruptcies.
Crippled by 17 billion Swiss francs (11 billion euros, 14.2 billion dollars) in debt, the airline was closed down, leading to several thousand job losses.
The public prosecution launched by Weber revolved broadly around allegations that managers had not shown due diligence after years of undertaking a costly expansion strategy by buying into other airlines abroad.
However, in his verdict presiding judge Andreas Fischer said that the prosecution had been unable to prove that the defendants had failed in their duty or that offences had been committed.
Legal experts underlined that bad business administration was not punishable unless there was ill-intent, and said a parallel civil lawsuit should be more successful.
The verdict last week caused an uproar in the Swiss media mainly because of the levels of compensation accorded to the defendants. Many of them are wealthy figures in Switzerland's financial establishment.
14. June 2007, Swissinfo
Prosecutors to appeal Swissair acquittal
Swiss prosecutors plan to lodge an appeal against a lower court verdict that cleared all 19 former Swissair managers of criminal malpractice.
The prosecution will decide on the extent of the appeal once it receives the written verdict, said federal prosecutor Christian Weber in a statement on Wednesday.
The decision to request canton Zurich's higher court to review the judgment was announced a week after a Zurich district court acquitted all defendants accused of bringing down the airline and awarded them around SFr3 million (US$2.5 million) in compensation.
The presiding judge declared on June 7 there was no evidence the defendants knowingly acted to damage the company. The acquittal led to an outcry from union representatives, politicians and citizens, including former Swissair employees.
The prosecution has yet to decide whether it will stick to its initial demand of a six:month prison sentence for Mario Corti, the last chief executive of now:defunct parent SAirGroup, and a range of suspended sentences for 18 other airline executives, board members and consultants.
The defendants in Switzerland's largest corporate trial had all denied charges that included damaging creditors, mismanagement, making false business statements and forging documents.
Some blamed the Belgian government, the big Swiss banks and the September 11 terrorist attacks for the airline's downfall.
The grounding of Switzerland's national airline on October 2, 2001, generated emotional turmoil in the country and left a bitter taste in the mouth of many shareholders and staff who lost money and jobs.
The detailed appeal has to be sent to the Upper Court of canton Zurich within 20 days from the day the written verdict is published. The higher court's ruling could then be challenged before Switzerland's supreme court by either side.
Lawyers said they expect the written ruling will be issued at the earliest by the end of August. The Zurich Upper Court said it assumed that the appeal would be reviewed before the middle of next year.
swissinfo with agencies
Appeal against acquittal of 19 in Swissair trial may be refused
Zurich - Switzerland's public prosecutor is likely to reject an appeal against a court decision to clear 19 people, tried in connection with the collapse of the Swiss airline, Swissair, reports said Friday. The Zurich-based public prosector had considered the low chance of success, according to the Swiss wire agency ATS.
The 19, including former airline boss Mario Corti, his predecessor Philippe Brugisser and Eric Honegger, the former president of the board of parent company SairGroup, were cleared in June of charges ranging from mismanagement to forgery.
Swissair was grounded in 2001 with the loss of 5,000 jobs, as debts topped 17 billion francs (13.7 billion US dollars).
The accused blamed the collapse of the company on banks - for refusing to extend the company's credit - and on the immediate impact of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks that had a negative impact on aviation worldwide.
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