The campaign was launched by Swiss engineering student Natanael Wildermuth after he read about Quadroni’s plight in a long investigative piece by Swiss news site Republik.
Quadroni, a builder in the south-eastern Swiss region of Graubünden lost his business and reputation and finally his wife and children after lifting the lid on price-fixing practices by builders in the region who were colluding to systematically overcharge for construction projects.
A long-term member of the cartel himself, Quadroni found his own business began to suffer once he stepped away from the price-fixing ring. In 2013, he declared bankruptcy and he has been surviving by doing odd jobs since then.
In 2017, Quadroni was arrested by a police commando unit after an argument with his wife in circumstances now being investigated by prosecutors in Graubünden. He was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward but doctors were unable to verify reports he had been suicidal and he was released. During that time his wife left him with his three daughters.
“I wanted to help Quadroni get his life back on track,” Wildermuth told The Local recently of his decision to launch the campaign.
“I especially want to help Quadroni, to get his daughters back,” the student said of the first such campaign in Switzerland to help a whistleblower.
It turns out Wildermuth, who is studying timber construction engineering,” is not alone in wanting to support the builder. A total of 1,285 backers had pledged 142, 505 francs to Quadroni as of Saturday morning, mostly in the form of small pledges of 25 or 90 francs, although five pledged 2,000 francs each.
Wildermuth’s campaign has broken all records for Swiss crowdfunding site wemakeit, the platform’s manager Céline Fallet told Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger.
The initial aim of the campaign was to raise 100,000 francs to help Quadroni. But with that mark now well and truly reached, Wildermuth and former president of the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland Giusep Nay, who is administering the money received from donors, are now considering their next step.
The initial outlines of the Quadroni campaign already suggested possible assistance for other whistleblowers, and while Wildermuth and Nay have not yet made any detailed plans. Among the possibilities being considered, however, is a foundation.
Whistleblowers within private firms receive only limited protection under the Swiss justice system. While employees within the federal administration – and, to differing degrees, cantonal employees – have access to an anonymous reporting service, employees of private firms often face losing their job and prosecution.
The Swiss parliament has been looking at legal changes to boost protection for whistleblowers for several years without making progress. The Federal Department of Justice and Police is set to tackle the issue again in the second half of 2018, according to the Tages Anzeiger.