Government slammed for not doing enough to combat money laundering

The Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, denied allegations that the government is dragging its heels over money-laundering Keystone

The government has come in for further criticism over its measures to combat money laundering. Several members of parliament said the authorities underestimated the problem and the steps taken were insufficient.

This content was published on June 12, 2001 minutes

The federal authorities faced strong criticism from the centre-left and the centre-right in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Several speakers for the Social Democratic Party said the system in place was not working effectively and the finance ministry in charge had underestimated the issue.

One speaker called for the abolition of banking secrecy, saying it was the only way to ensure that money of dubious origin was not laundered in Switzerland.

Parliamentarians said the supervisory body dealing with money laundering in the non-banking sector was seriously understaffed and was not credible.

On average, it only handed out fines in one out of 30 reported cases. More than 500 cases are still pending and the office is plagued by personnel disputes.

Politicians from the centre-right joined calls for improvements in the way the federal authorities handle suspected money-laundering cases.

The Swiss president, Moritz Leuenberger, acknowledged that the authorities have had difficulties trying to apply anti-money laundering measures. But he denied allegations that the government was dragging its heels in clamping down on irregularities in the non-banking sector.

The government maintains Swiss anti-money laundering laws, which were tightened in 1998, are among the toughest in the world.

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