Steinhausen, 06.07.2020

Crypto International AG dismisses almost all employees

Because the Federal Council is no longer issuing them with export licences, the cyber security company will be dismissing more than 80 employees. It could not convince the authorities that it had nothing to do with the espionage affair.

Mass redundancy at Crypto International AG, based in Steinhausen. On Friday morning, 3 July, the workforce was informed that 83 of the 85 workplaces in Switzerland would be cut. This was reported by the NZZ on Friday afternoon. It’s mainly leading specialists in the field of cyber security who are affected by the dismissals. The Office of Economic Affairs and Labour of the Canton of Zug confirmed the impending mass redundancies on request.

"We are very sorry about this step," the owner couple Linde told the NZZ. The Swedish couple, Andreas and Emma Linde, bought the international part of the former Crypto AG only two years ago. The mass dismissal was "inevitable", and is the result of the investigation of the so-called Crypto affair, which was set in motion by the "Rundschau" and other media. The media were able to show for the first time that the then Crypto AG, a manufacturer of cypher devices, was for a long time owned by the US and German secret services. A so-called ‘back door’ was secretly installed in the devices, so that the secret services involved, probably including the Swiss, could read the messages of the customers to whom the devices were sold.

The headquarters of the cypher equipment manufacturer Crypto in Steinhausen.

The part of the company that the Swedish couple had bought was the global part of this former Crypto AG. This area of the company had nothing to do with espionage, however, as the owners repeatedly asserted. But they never succeeded in convincing the authorities that "our company never had anything to do with the former Crypto AG."

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) already filed a complaint against Unknowns in the Case of Crypto at the end of February, for possible violations of export control law, and, two weeks ago, the Federal Council authorised the Federal Prosecutor's Office to conduct a criminal investigation in connection with the Crypto affair. The state government thereby decided that Crypto International AG would not be granted export licences for the time being. This was the death blow for the company. It would no longer be able to sell devices abroad, even though according to NZZ the order books of Crypto International AG were been full.