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Swiss banks credited with leading battle against money laundering

The new guidelines aim to prevent dirty money from entering the banking system


Swiss prodding has galvanised a group of the world's biggest banks to agree new measures to combat money laundering, according to Britain's Financial Times. The measures are to be unveiled in Zurich, New York and Hong Kong next week.

The FT says a dozen of the world's biggest banks, including Switzerland's UBS and Credit Suisse, have agreed to the guidelines in an effort to head off criticism of their involvement in high profile money laundering cases.

The paper credits Swiss banks with leading the initiative, and says the guidelines have been put together in conjunction with "Transparency International", a non-governmental organisation devoted to fighting corruption.

The FT says the guidelines are being implemented in response to growing evidence that current measures to combat money laundering are largely ineffective. It estimates that $590 billion (SFr1050 billion) is laundered annually.

The banks are quoted as saying that the guidelines aim to ensure "a global standard of due diligence" for banks which deal with rich clients.

Swiss banks, which have come in for heavy criticism over dealings with dubious customers - including the late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha - are anxious to protect the threat to their reputation.

Last August, Credit Suisse was among six Swiss banks reprimanded by the Swiss Banking Commission for serious shortcomings in procedures relating to the handling of funds from dubious sources.

Swiss banks control about one third of the world's private banking market.


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