Switzerland wants to ease banking secrecy

AFP - [email protected] • 18 Jan, 2012 Updated Wed 18 Jan 2012 17:47 CEST
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Switzerland is considering new legislation to ease banking secrecy in a bid to fight money laundering, the police and justice department said on Wednesday.

The Federal Council wants to amend the law on money laundering to allow authorities to send "specific financial information such as bank account numbers, information on transactions and capital or account balances," to foreign partners, the department said in a statement.

This will help in "the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism" and "strengthen the integrity of Switzerland as a financial centre," it said.

The draft law aims to extend the powers of the Money Laundering Reporting Office of Switzerland (MROS) so it can demand information from third-party intermediaries after a suspicious transaction has been carried out.

Bern on Wednesday approved the draft amendment bill to be submitted for consultation by April 20 this year. In the interim period, cantons and political parties are to establish their positions on the subject.

The MROS has not been able to provide foreign partners with financial information such as bank account numbers because such information is covered by provisions on "banking secrecy or official secrecy," the Swiss department said.

This has had a negative impact on Switzerland, officials said, since many countries apply the principle of reciprocity and thus do not provide any financial information to the MROS.

In addition, since July 2011, the Egmont Groupt, representing 127 financial intelligence units, has threatened to suspend Switzerland because it is the only member that does not share information with partner authorities.

"Such a suspension could damage the reputation of Switzerland as a financial centre," say Swiss authorities who want to "dismantle the obstacle of secrecy in executing administrative assistance."



AFP 2012/01/18 17:47

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