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Draft federal law on The Fight against Money Laundering in the Financial Sector

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This new draft law now before Parliament should be enacted in 1998. Its main purpose is to establish rules designed to subject the non-banking financial sector to the duty of diligence incumbent on banks since 1977. It envisages that any financial intermediary who suspects that a transaction involves money laundering should inform the Swiss authorities (Communication Office). "The obligation to report exists only in the context of a business relationship and in the presence of well-founded suspicion of money laundering, that assets are of criminal origin or are at the disposal of a criminal organisation. Tax offences need not be reported as they are never deemed to be criminal offences. A very high standard has therefore been set... To allay any fears, and in regard to the Protection of Personal Data, it should be mentioned that the Communication Office will be authorised to disclose data entrusted to it only to the authority supervising financial intermediaries or to the penal authorities. It is therefore an obligation (rather than a right as prescribed in Article 305 ter of the Swiss Penal Code) to inform, which, for the sake of consistency, would apply to all financial intermediaries, including banks. In making revelations they would face no civil liability.

Strictly speaking, this obligation would not represent a new burden on the banks, given their current responsibility and the provisions to which they are subject in the fight against money laundering. For bankers there is practically no difference between the choice and the obligation to report. We are therefore convinced that this new proposal should not affect the confidence of clients who are beyond reproach in their bankers duty of discretion.

   
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