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‘No conflict of interests’ over Clinton donation: Bern

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‘No conflict of interests’ over Clinton donation: Bern
Calmy-Rey and Clinton were involved in diplomacy at the time of the donation. Photo: Maria Belen Perez Gabilondo/AFP
10:22 CET+01:00
No action will be taken over the Swiss government’s half-a-million-franc donation to the Clinton Foundation, a parliamentary commission has decided.

The donation to the foundation set up by former US President Bill Clinton and his wife, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was made between 2011 and 2013 but only surfaced in the press last week.

The money was donated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (DEZA), part of the Swiss foreign office, to support a project aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality in Liberia.

At the time the US and Switzerland were embroiled in a dispute over banking secrecy after allegations that Swiss banks were helping US clients to dodge taxes. The US was pressuring Switzerland to force banks to hand over customer data.

Hillary Clinton was involved in diplomatic negotiations on the matter with Micheline Calmy-Rey, at the time Switzerland's foreign minister and therefore also in charge of DEZA.

As a result, the donation caused considerable controversy when it hit the news last week, with some commentators saying it was a “political error” by Switzerland and presented a conflict of interests.

After meeting with current foreign minister Didier Burkhalter, on Tuesday the Swiss parliamentary commission on foreign affairs (APK-N) examined the matter and said it would not pursue any action.

In a statement, the commission said it had considered the Federal Council’s explanations that the donation was legal, in line with the country’s foreign aid priorities and “presented no conflict of interest”.

“Although some members of the APK-N feel that any support given to projects linked to politically prominent people is highly problematic, the commission nevertheless has decided not to take any further action in the matter,” it said.

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