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Zug councillor faces embezzlement inquiry

Published: 29 Nov 2012 10:22 GMT+01:00

Law enforcement officials have confirmed that Romer, a 48-year-old member of the Liberal party (FDP), is under suspicion for his management of an individual’s estate and not for activities related to his political office.

Marcel Schlatter, spokesman for Zug’s justice department, told the Neue Luzerner Zeitung newspaper that a “criminal case (has been launched) against Ivo Romer for fraud and dishonest business practices”.

However, Schlatter added that at this point there is a “presumption of innocence” in the matter until proven otherwise.

The Weltwoche journal first reported that police had made searches in three locations in Zug on October 26th in connection with the Romer case.

The searches of a private apartment, the offices of Fidustra SA and a government office were made to gather information regarding Romer’s financial activities.

Police were contacted after relatives of Alice Erika de Beaufort-Bubeck sought the advice of a Zurich lawyer regarding the disappearance of money from the late woman’s estate.

Welwoche reported that Romer, a financial adviser, was charged in April with various offences including falsifying documents, money laundering and embezzlement of several million francs from De Beaufort-Buback.

The journal reports that that Romer provided financial advice for the elderly woman who moved to Zug in 2000 after the death of her husband.

When she died in 2010 at the age of 95 she had less than 20,000 francs in her bank account, which held a balance of more than 6.8 million francs in 2004, Weltwoche said.

Some of the money was used for renovations of the woman’s family home, while other amounts went to a foundation, of which Romer was a trustee, the journal reported.

But it alleges that the councillor “plundered” the woman’s account for his own use.

Romer earlier denied any wrongdoing when rumours of the case emerged earlier.
 
He “totally rejected the accusations”, referring to the allegations as “totally without foundation” and "amounting to defamation”.

The case is reminiscent of charges laid against Bruno Zuppiger, a former MP from Zurich and a member of the Swiss People's Party (SVP).

Zuppiger was also accused of embezzlement and dishonest management in a case set to go to court on January 16th.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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