By Bastian Benrath
Managers at Credit Suisse Group AG, UBS Group AG and government officials are set to face further questioning by members of parliament into the former’s near-collapse and rescue, as lawmakers wield a rarely-used power of oversight to probe the takeover deal.
The oversight committees of both houses voted in favor of installing a parliamentary inquiry commission, or PUK, on the sale of Credit Suisse announced in March and the government’s usage of emergency law to facilitate it, the committees said in a statement late Monday.
Unlike other legislative bodies, a PUK has judicial powers to subpoena witnesses and access minutes of government meetings. Since the foundation of modern-day Switzerland in 1848, such a commission has only been called four times, the last time in 1995 amid a scandal over state pension funds.
While the inquiry will not prevent the deal from going forward, it is likely to yield information on who pulled the strings in confidential meetings leading up to the takeover. Before the inquiry is launched, upper-house leadership has to sign off on it and it has to clear the floor of both houses, where lawmakers are likely to follow the lead of their oversight committees.
Leaders of the upper house are due to meeting for a decision on Wednesday. The earliest time in which the broader membership of both houses could decide would be in the session from May 30 to June 16. If lawmakers greenlight the PUK there, it could be formed as early as the fall.
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“Considering the extraordinary dimension of the incidents,” a PUK is the right way to proceed, Matthias Michel, head of the upper-house oversight committee, told Swiss broadcaster SRF.
Switzerland’s parliament had denied the takeover its blessing in a vote in April, but couldn’t do anything to stop the deal since a designated group of senior lawmakers had signed off on it beforehand.