Beaulieu: Cantonal funds have been used correctly but the verdict is unclear, according to COGES


Today, the city of Lausanne has exclusively taken over the site of Beaulieu, with the creation of a public limited company (the archives). Keystone / Jean-Christophe Pott sda-ats

This content was published on May 13, 2022 – 12:25

(Keystone-ATS)

The Board of Directors of the Greater Fu Council released its report Friday on the Beaulieu Corporation disaster. He concludes that the cantonal funds, approximately 70 million francs, were used correctly. On the other hand, it emphasizes an ambiguous judgment.

“To our knowledge, there has been no scandal or misappropriation of cantonal funds,” explains Keystone-ATS Management Committee (COGES) Chairman (COGES) Monique Reeve. The appropriations of 30 million francs (1999) and 36.8 million (2009) were used in connection with Beaulieu, a historic site for exhibitions and conferences in Lausanne.

The Grand Council approved these two amounts. A capital endowment of 30 million was used in 1999 to pay off the debts of the Beaulieu Co-operative, but the Beaulieu Foundation (FdB) then did not find the ability to fund the necessary new investments. 36.8 million were used in 2009 to rebuild Halles Sud, COGES attests.

CEP rejected in 2020

COGES’s investigative work follows Vaud’s refusal to set up a Parliamentary Inquiry Committee (CEP) in September 2020. COGES’s mandate relates only to the use of cantonal appropriations in this case.

After paying off the debt, the African Development Bank did not find “the ability to finance the necessary new investments,” the COGES report notes. As for the 36.8 million, they “were part of a $100 million investment strategy, which did not materialize, which also provided for the renovation of the northern halls and extensive maintenance work for the main building,” he adds.

The dilapidated condition of the site and the workload were also underestimated, the report continues. COGES was also surprised by the lack of an inventory of the buildings at the time of the acquisition from the Beaulieu Co-operative by the FdB that followed.

Complex and Hybrid Governance

In the end, the report notes “ambiguous governance” and clear “improvable”. Beaulieu’s strategic vision was based on a “very positive and overly optimistic” business model for holding fairs, conferences, events and exhibitions, and “then all economic indicators showed a decline in attendance,” notes Ms. Reeve.

The Council of the Foundation’s (CdF) questioning has been so belated that it is struggling to rethink the economic model, COGES wrote.

The failure of the Tawa Tower project in 2014 also led to a strategic reorientation towards greater diversification of activities and actors,” but the structure and governance of CdF were not adapted to the new tasks assigned by FdB, which shifted from the real estate operator to the operator responsible for hosting events”.

Here, COGES condemns the “complex and mixed” governance between the authorities of the city of Lausanne and the canton of Vaud that has shown all their limits, paralyzed decision-making and explained an opaque management, summarizes the report.

No one dared to pull the fist of Comptoir Suisse

Each party has transferred responsibility for the future of the site, a view of both the city and the canton. COGES wrote: “No authority has dared to take responsibility for the most drastic measure, namely, the ‘pull-back of Beaulieu’s fist,’ guaranteed by the Comptoir suisse.”

This is also due to “the complexity and ambiguity of the calculations, as well as the regulation put in place by the Secretary-General at that time, which limited monitoring by CdF representatives.” However, she believes they could have been “more insistent and persistent in their demands,” noting in passing that “some ambiguity” also prevailed regarding the interactions between the state and its CdF representatives.

The lack of curiosity that can also be attributed to the auditors, the same from 1999 to 2017, which despite the situation, found no violation, defies the report.

As a reminder, a criminal investigation against the former Secretary General of the Federal Development Bank (2001-2017), which was initially approved, was reopened in the spring of 2020 at the request of the Cantonal Court to decide on a possible fraud case. He faces many suspicions: over-billing, obfuscation of accounts or authorizations given to relatives without invitations to bid.

Today, the city of Lausanne has acquired exclusively the Beaulieu site, with the creation of a public limited company, and thus FdB has been dissolved.

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