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French government rejects parliament's criticism of Switzerland

French parliamentarians, Vincent Peillon (left) and Arnaud Montebourg, said Swiss efforts to fights money laundering were a "sham"


The French government has distanced itself from a parliamentary report, released this week, which accused Switzerland of not doing enough to combat money laundering.

In a statement, the French foreign ministry effectively dismissed the findings of the report, saying Bern had demonstrated that it was committed to tackling financial crime.

The strongly worded report, published by a French parliamentary committee on Wednesday, caused outrage in Switzerland, after its authors derided the country as a "predator in world finance" and said it was waging a "sham war" against financial crime.

The Swiss government, along with a top Geneva prosecutor and the Swiss Bankers Association, categorically rejected the report.

The government said Switzerland had been among the first countries to place the banking and insurance sectors under supervision and put preventive and far-reaching mechanisms into place in the non-banking sector."

Its comments were echoed by a Geneva prosecutor, Bernard Bertossa, in an interview with France's "Figaro" newspaper on Thursday. He said Switzerland had been unfairly singled out since Britain, Liechtenstein and Monaco received at least as much money from dubious sources as Switzerland.

Citing cases in which Switzerland had frozen accounts belonging to officials accused of corruption - including Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the late French president - Bertossa said Switzerland had made substantial efforts to combat money laundering, while other financial centres had done almost nothing.

The Swiss Bankers Association attacked the report's main author, Arnaud Montebourg, saying he and his team "came to Switzerland with their eyes shut with the sole purpose of confirming their own prejudices".



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