Government calls on banks to help fight organised crime

Ruth Metzler (pictured with UBS chief, Marcel Ospel) called for more action to tackle money laundering Keystone

The Swiss justice minister, Ruth Metzler, has called on the banking industry to join the fight against organised crime.

This content was published on September 1, 2000 minutes

At a one-day meeting of the Swiss Bankers Association in St Gallen, Metzler outlined a joint strategy of prevention, suppression, legal aid, international policing and information to combat the problem. She said the banks' help was vital to ensure success.

"We need the collaboration and active involvement of the banks in order to tackle one of the main forms of crime, namely money laundering," Metzler said.

She said that as part of the new strategy, an initial 480 new jobs needed to be created in the federal justice authorities, the federal police office and the federal court.

At the same meeting, the banks announced they were setting up a special task force to ensure that Switzerland retains its position as a world financial centre. They said it would deal with problems, including the recurrent theme of banking secrecy.

The Association's president, Georg Krayer, said the task force would work to improve the conditions facing banks in Switzerland.

He said the officials would not only work with domestic and foreign authorities, as well as the media, but would also seek to ensure that standards were enforced in Switzerland and that the country's reputation as a financial centre was assured.

The task force, under Niklaus Blattner, will seek to defend clients' banking secrecy. Krayer repeated that the Association backed the government's position that banking secrecy was not negotiable, and said an exemplary system of supervision already existed to combat fiscal fraud.

Switzerland, among other countries, has been coming under increasing pressure from the European Union to lift banking secrecy regulations as part of the EU's efforts to clamp down on tax evasion.

swissinfo with agencies

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