A breath of fresh air...

At the height of the pandemic, the measure prevented surging bankruptcies and layoffs in the hardest-hit sectors such as transport, tourism, events, and many more. Covid loans certainly played their role fully as buffer to the crisis, bringing in interest-free and quickly-available new money. Companies facing cash-flow difficulties were therefore able to receive sums of up to 10% of their turnover, with a cap set at 20 million.

... under certain conditions

To avoid misuse, project initiators linked their loans from the outset with a number of binding provisions. These provided, for example, that an undertaking benefiting from that aid could not pay shareholders any dividends until it had repaid the loan in full. In the same way, the scheme could be refused to a company within a group whose subsidiary was simultaneously developing new projects. The introduction of these rules, together with tighter controls, led to complaints being filed and convictions being handed down. Often more out of ignorance than out of a desire to defraud, 219 companies that had secured Covid loans were reported for having paid dividends to their shareholders. That being said, the measure achieved its objective by enabling the Swiss economic fabric to recover without too much damage.