Switzerland improves anti-bribery record

The Panama Papers revealed the role played by Swiss banks and financial intermediaries in concealing the fortunes of the wealthy from prying eyes. Keystone / Alejandro Bolivar

Switzerland is one of the few countries to actively enforce efforts to combat bribery of foreign officials, according to the latest international comparison by Transparency International. But the NGO warns that the Alpine country still lacks strong whistleblower protections and has too many loopholes in its money laundering laws.

This content was published on October 13, 2020 - 12:37

The Exporting Corruption Report 2020, published on Tuesday, assesses how well countries implement the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Of the 47 countries assessed, Switzerland is among the top four performers when it comes to applying the Convention. The United States, the United Kingdom and Israel as the only other countries credited with actively enforcing rules against foreign bribery.

According to the report, most countries assessed (34 out of 47), conducted practically no enforcement of their foreign bribery laws. The biggest global exporters with the worst track records are China, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, India and Mexico.

While Switzerland scores well, Transparency International finds areas of improvement. "Switzerland still has a lot of work to do in the fight against corruption," stated Martin Hilti, director of the NGO’s chapter in Switzerland.

"It will remain involved in major corruption and money laundering scandals as long as it does not have effective mechanisms to uncover corruption and to systematically prevent and suppress money laundering," he said.

The NGO recommends that Switzerland improve legal protection of whistleblowers, expand the scope of federal Money Laundering Act to certain activities of lawyers and create a publicly accessible register of beneficial owners of companies and trusts.

The number of reports of suspected money laundering jumped by about 25% in Switzerland last year according to the Federal Money Laundering Reporting OfficeExternal link.

In September, the former head of Switzerland’s anti-money laundering office, Daniel Thelesklaf, criticised the country for not doing enough in the fight against large scale corruption. He argued that billions of dollars are still being laundered through Swiss banks, largely unchecked.

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