Swiss Money Laundering reports hit records

Record numbers of suspicious financial deals were reviewed by Swiss authorities in 2010. The financial deals under money laundering suspicion totaled CHF 2.23 billion (USD 2.1 billion). Most of the reports were forwarded to prosecutors.

It should be noted that for decades Switzerland was viewed as a safe haven for money of dubious origin. However, the country started to clean up its image by introducing anti-money laundering laws in 1998.

According to the legislation, it is obligatory for financial operators to report suspect transactions, regardless of the amounts involved. In 2009, Switzerland’s Money Laundering Reporting Office received a total of 896 reports on suspicious financial activities, which was a 5.3% increase from the previous year.

Judith Voney, a spokeswoman for the Money Laundering Reporting Office, said that there had been an upward trend in suspicious activity reporting in the past 3 years. She said: “The Swiss financial place has become very attentive and the quality of the reports is nowadays very good”. Also, she noted that it was impossible to make a direct link between the financial and economic crisis and the record number of suspect transactions, but crisis situations in general tend to lead to more fraud.

Stricter reporting requirements for suspected money-laundering were introduced in Switzerland in 2009. But the Money Laundering Reporting Office said that the reports were made before these rules were introduced. The banking sector accounted for 2/3 of all reports.

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