The Bogousslavsky Affair

Fraud In Switzerland

By Deniz Saral, Ph.D., and Patricia Santos

deniz-saral-50x50.jpgpatricia-santos-50x50.jpg   Case in Point 


Lake Geneva's pristine water in Switzerland is renowned for attracting wealthy tourists and investors. But a few years ago a prominent resident made it the splashy backdrop for a spectacular embezzlement case.

On March 12, Julien Bogousslavsky, 55, was found guilty of several charges of fraud including embezzling CHF5.3 million (almost US$7.6 million), according to, the Lake Geneva regional community newspaper. He awaits sentencing, scheduled to take place in 2010, according to the March 25 article, "L 'Etat reclame advantage" in the Swiss newspaper 24 Heures.

Bogousslavsky was chief of the CHUV Neurology Department, professor at the University of Lausanne's Medical School, and a lieutenant colonel in the Swiss Army before his arrest in late April 2006.

"No one would have imagined that one among us, one renowned for his exceptional proven professional capabilities, would harm to such a significant extent the image of the CHUV [Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois] through the embezzlement of funds and could distress the labors of so many co-workers for several months," wrote Bernard Decrauzat, general director of Lausanne's hospital, the CHUV, in its 2006 annual report.

Bogousslavsky was accused of embezzling funds from the CHUV's budgeted, taxpayer-financed research as well as research funds provided by large pharmaceutical companies.

It's believed he used the diverted sums to support his passion for rare and antique books for his personal library. But according to the article, "Inculpé d'escroquerie, le neurologue du CHUV a passé la nuit en prison," published April 29, 2006 in 24 Heures, while Bougousslavsky pleaded guilty to most charges, he maintains that he didn't purchase the entirety of his rare book collection with his illicit gains.

Jean Treccani, the local district attorney, told 24 Heures he believed Bogousslavsky was telling the truth. He said he didn't think Bogousslavsky was a compulsive collector because, at the time of his arrest, he had considerable leftover cash in his accounts and two splendid houses - one in Epalinges-Switzerland and the other in the south of France.

Perhaps it was only a crime of convenience. According to several articles in 24 Heures around the time the story first broke, CHUV lacked the internal controls needed at the time to prevent Bogousslavsky from allegedly creating false purchase orders and subsequent false delivery receipts from fictitious companies for equipment that was never delivered to the hospital.

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