Anti Money Laundering (AML) in Switzerland
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Money laundering in Switzerland is a growing problem, despite the strength of the Swiss economy. Reporting indicates that criminals attempt to launder proceeds in Switzerland from a wide range of illegal activities conducted worldwide, particularly financial crimes, narcotics trafficking, arms trafficking, organized crime, and corruption. Although both Swiss and foreign entities conduct money laundering activities in Switzerland, narcotics-related money laundering operations are largely controlled by foreign narcotics trafficking organizations, often from the Balkans or Eastern Europe. Some of the money generated by Albanian narcotics trafficking rings in Switzerland has been funneled to armed Albanian extremists in the Balkans.
Switzerland has significant AML legislation in place, making banks and other financial intermediaries subject to strict Know Your Customer (KYC) reporting requirements. Switzerland has also implemented legislation for identifying, tracing, freezing, seizing, and forfeiting narcotics-related assets. Legislation that aligns the Swiss supervisory arrangements with the Basel Committee’s Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision is contained in the Swiss Money Laundering Act.
Swiss money laundering laws and regulations apply to both banks and Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs). The Federal Banking Commission, the Federal Office of Private Insurance, and the Swiss Federal Gaming Board serve as primary oversight authorities for a number of financial intermediaries, including banks, securities dealers, insurance institutions, and casinos. Other financial intermediaries are required to either come under the direct supervision of the Money Laundering Control Authority (MLCA) of the Federal Finance Department or join an accredited Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO). The SROs are non-governmental, self-regulating organizations authorized by the Swiss government to oversee the implementation of AML measures by their members. SROs must be independent of the management of the intermediaries they supervise and must enforce compliance with due diligence obligations. Noncompliance can result in a fine or a revoked license.
The Economy of Switzerland
Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) larger than that of the big Western European economies. In recent years, the Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness. Switzerland remains a safe-haven for investors, because it has maintained a degree of bank secrecy and has kept up the Franc's long-term external value.
Banking in Switzerland
The Swiss National Bank conducts the country’s monetary policy as an independent central bank. It is required by the Swiss Constitution to act in the best interests of the country as a whole. Its primary goal is to ensure price stability, while taking due account of economic developments. In so doing, it creates an appropriate environment for economic growth.
The Federal Banking Commission, the Federal Office of Private Insurance and the Swiss Federal Gaming Board serve as primary oversight authorities for a number of financial intermediaries, including: banks, securities dealers, insurance institutions and casinos.
Currency of Switzerland
The Franc is the official currency of Switzerland. The Swiss Franc is one of the world’s most stable currencies to date. Franc banknotes are available in 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 1000 denominations. Coins are available in 5, 10, and 20 centime denominations, as well as 1/2, 1, 2 and 5 Franc coins.
Other Key Statistics of Switzerland
Time Zone: CET (UTC+1).
Location: Central Europe, east of France, north of Italy.
Population: 8,211,700 (2014 estimate.)
Capital: None. Bern is the de facto capital.
Languages Spoken: German, French, Italian, and Romansh.