Former Swissair CFO Faces Charges

Years after the national airline's 2001 bankruptcy, the current CFO of Alcon is among 19 individuals coming in for a hard landing.
Stephen TaubApril 3, 2006

Jacqualyn Fouse, who served as chief financial officer of Swissair from July 2001 to May 2002, will face charges of mismanagement, unfaithful business conduct, and favoring creditors prior to the former national airline’s October 2001 bankruptcy.

Fouse joined the company as part of a reorganization management team only months before was grounded under $13 billion in debt — Switzerland’s largest corporate failure, according to Bloomberg. Also named by Swiss prosecutors are 18 other former officers, directors, and advisers of the airline and its parent, SAirGroup, including former Swissair chief executive officers Philippe Bruggisser and Mario Corti.

The charges against Fouse were disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Swiss eye-care giant Alcon, which she joined as chief financial officer in July 2002, Bloomberg reported. Alcon added that Fouse has informed management and the board of directors that she intends to enter a plea of not guilty with the Swiss court.

In a January 2003 report, Ernst & Young stated that Swissair’s management and board approved accounts that contained “grave errors” and pursued a “careless” expansion strategy, according to Bloomberg. The Wall Street Journal observed that the company bought interests in unprofitable carriers including Belgium’s Sabena, as well as in France and Portugal, that weakened its balance sheet.

“It’s late gratification that the prosecutor has filed charges against former Swissair managers and board members,” the Swiss cabin-crew union reportedly stated. That union represents workers for Swiss International Air Lines, the Lufthansa-owned successor company to Swissair, the Journal added.

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