Efforts to combat money laundering fail to yield results
Switzerland's systems to combat money laundering are not working properly, according to the director of the Federal Office for Police, Jean-Luc Vez. His comments came as the Money Laundering Reporting Office revealed that there had not been a single conviction since 1998.
In its third annual report, the Reporting Office said that last year 311 cases of dubious transactions had been reported by financial institutions, of which 240 had been forwarded on to the relevant cantonal authorities.
That represents an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year. However, a backlog of some 411 cases is pending, and no convictions have been made.
"Switzerland's anti-money laundering law, which is meant to ensure the cleanliness of the financial sector, has not yet come into effect in all of its sections," Vez said. He added that Switzerland's controls were better than those of many other countries.
Vez said banks had a good record of cooperating with the reporting office, but he criticised law firms, exchange bureaus and insurance companies for not doing enough to monitor and report suspicious transactions.
Vez also pointed out that the Reporting Office was a separate body from the Money Laundering Control Authority, which has recently been at the centre of a political controversy.
The Control Authority, headed until June by Niklaus Huber, recently came under heavy criticism for its alleged lack of efficiency. The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, was criticised in a report commissioned by parliament for not having taken internal dissensions seriously, which led to the collapse of the Control Authority.
The Reporting Office, which is part of the Federal Office for Police, currently has six employees. It was fully restructured last year after four of its staff members resigned.
Switzerland implemented a revised anti-money laundering law in April 1998.
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