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Money laundering notifications in Switzerland increase by 400 percent

Tighter money laundering legislation in Switzerland has led to a 400 percent increase of notifications of possible money laundering transactions in the past year, the Federal Police Office said Tuesday.

This content was published on July 13, 1999 - 14:51

Tighter money laundering legislation in Switzerland has led to a 400 percent increase of notifications of possible money laundering transactions in the past year, the Federal Police Office said Tuesday.

Since the tighter laws went into force in April 1998, the number of notifications about suspicious or apparently drug-related money transfers increased from about 40 per month to 160, according to the Money Laundering Reporting Office.

In its first comprehensive report on the effect of the new laws, the office said that most of the notifications came from banks and covered assets totalling SFr330 million ($220 million).

About two thirds of all notifications were passed on to the relevant cantonal justice authorities, notably cantons Zurich, Geneva and Ticino. In about 80 percent of all cases there were financial links abroad, the office said.

Switzerland introduced the tighter measures in order to dispel the image of a secretive financial market where banks do not ask too many questions about where the money is coming from. The new legislation means that Switzerland now has very strict anti-money laundering measures.

However, the office said that, in light of Switzerland’s significance as an international financial market, the number of 160 notifications was considered to be still fairly low.

The office said training would now be increased to make banks and other financial institutions more aware of how complex money laundering transactions can be, particularly in light of such new technologies as online money transfers.

The official mandate of the Money Laundering Reporting Office is to serve as a government point of contact, where individuals, banks and other financial institutions can report suspicious transactions. The office evaluates the reports and, if it suspects criminal activities, passes on the cases to the cantonal justice and prosecution authorities.

In December 1997, Switzerland's high court ordered the transfer of assets belonging to the late Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos to the Philippines, saying it was against Swiss interests "to serve as a safe haven" for flight capital or criminal proceeds.

Also frozen in Switzerland -- pending legal action -- are assets belonging to the former Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.



From staff and wire reports.






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