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Full euro conversion could spark crime in Switzerland

Swiss experts have warned of the risk of increased fraud when the European Union’s single currency, the euro, will become the only acceptable currency in the 11-nation Eurozone in 2002.

This content was published on October 21, 1999 - 16:01

Swiss experts have warned of the risk of increased fraud when the European Union’s single currency, the euro, will become the only acceptable currency in the 11-nation Eurozone in 2002.

Even though Switzerland is not an EU member, both individual citizens and institutions such as banks and the postal service could face fraud cases, a special working group told a news conference in the capital Berne Thursday.

“From experience we know that the introduction of a new currency will lead to an increase in currency-related crime,” said Daniel Thelesklaf of the Federal Police Office.
He said the last time this became obvious was ten years ago, when the deutschmark was introduced in the former East Germany.

With regard to the EU single currency, the experts warned that people in Switzerland will most likely see above-average circulation of counterfeit banknotes – both of the old currencies being phased out and new euro bills.
In the 11 Eurozone nations, the euro will go into common circulation alongside national currencies on January 1st, 2000. After six months, the national currencies will be phased out.

The euro was introduced for bank transfers, stock markets and government financial transactions at the start of this year.

The experts consider Switzerland’s euro preparations as adequate but nevertheless underline the importance of preventive measures, including training of staff and adequate technical equipment to prevent currency-related crimes.

Swiss institutions such as banks or postal services should be aware that software manipulations may have already taken place in anticipation of the final conversion.

Thelesklaf and his team warned that criminal organisations might also fake major euro transactions in an attempt to conceal their money laundering operations.

Those fears were echoed by Andreas Hubschmid, who underlined the seriousness of the threat on behalf of the major Swiss banks.

He said the banks would have to take comprehensive measures to make sure that their financial transaction software was safe, that money laundering could be detected in time and that counterfeit money could be spotted as quickly as possible.

From staff and wire reports.



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