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More money laundering after Arab Spring

Published: 15 May 2012 13:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 May 2012 10:49 GMT+02:00

Switzerland's Money Laundering Reporting Office has attributed a major increase in the number of reported cases in 2011 to the Arab Spring.

In its annual report released on Monday, the agency recorded a rise of 40 percent in comparison with the number of suspicious reports made in 2010, up to a new high of 1,625 reports.

Of the 139 reports of suspected money laundering, a majority were related to Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Libya, with combined assets totalling almost 600 million francs ($642 million), newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

The fact that no reports had been made concerning these countries in 2010 has led analysts to conclude that the Arab Spring has contributed significantly to the rise.

However, it was also noted that new regulations were put in place concerning Egypt and Tunisia, which resulted in more cases being identified.

The total amount of laundered assets reported set a new record of 3.3 billion francs ($3.53 billion), although the agency noted that some of the reports came from different institutions but concerned the same assets.

The number of cases reported by banks rose to 1,080 suspected cases, including suspected laundering through casinos, asset managers, and funds. The volume reported by lawyers also increased.

The majority of cases linked to criminal organizations concerned the Italian mafia, and there was an increase in the number of cases linked to fraud, bribery, and embezzlement. Instances of terrorist financing in 2011 were down on the 2010 figures.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

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