Combating money laundering effectively

The FinCEN files criticise international efforts to combat money laundering as insufficient. For Swiss banks, it is clear that a clean financial centre is key to being competitive. The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) supports an effective and continuously improved system for combating money laundering and thus also the ongoing revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

In its latest report, entitled the FinCEN files, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) criticised shortcomings in activities by international authorities and banks in combating money laundering. Its accusations are primarily levelled at international money-laundering reporting offices and major international banks. The Swiss media also mentions Swiss banks and criticises the Swiss system to combat money laundering.

For the SBA, it is clear that Switzerland and its banks do not have any interest in criminal money, and they must protect themselves from being abused by criminals. This is because a clean financial centre is key to being competitive. That is why there are clear and strict regulations and laws against money laundering in force, which are laid down in the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the related ordinance and the SBA’s self-regulation. Many banks additionally have their own rules that go beyond legal requirements.

As the world’s largest location for the cross-border wealth management business, Switzerland is exposed to an increased risk of money laundering. It has therefore actively participated in developing international standards on combating money laundering for many years, including as a founding member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Swiss Parliament is currently discussing revising the Anti-Money Laundering Act. The SBA supports the Federal Council’s proposal, through which Switzerland intends to implement the Financial Action Task Force’s key recommendations.

The Swiss media mentions that the names of Swiss banks also appear in the documents. It is important to understand that this relates to suspicious activity reports (SARs). A suspicious activity report shows that Swiss banks are paying close attention and making a report when suspicion arises. However, this does not mean that there has actually been a crime.

Switzerland and its banks have already done much to combat money laundering at a legal and technical level, and improvements are constantly being made. Combating money laundering is becoming increasingly challenging, especially in the digital age. Swiss banks have invested enormously in their compliance and anti-money-laundering departments and systems in the past few years and will continue to do so.

The ICIJ’s publication shows how important combating money laundering is and that countering this threat to the financial system requires binding regulations and cooperation internationally.

Jörg Gasser, CEO of the Swiss Bankers Association, commented on combating money laundering in Switzerland on Swiss TV’s Tagesschau and 10vor10 on Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF).

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