Switzerland - Zug, 26.04.2019

Increase in cases of suspected money laundering reported

Over the past two years, the number of cases of suspected money-laundering in Switzerland has increased twofold, with a doubling of cases suspected through Zug, too.



According to the body which monitors such cases, the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS), the number of such suspected cases rose to 6,126 over the course of 2018, meaning a rise of 31 per cent. As to the amount of money involved, this rose from CHF 16.5 billion to CHF 17.6 billion.


What should be emphasised, as Balz Bruppacher, who wrote the article on which this one is based, pointed out, is that these are suspected cases only.


As can be read on MROS’ website, the organisation is not a police authority in itself, but an administrative unit which publishes annual statistics on developments combating money laundering, organised crime and terrorist financing in the country.


While the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) claimed it had made progress in combating money laundering of late, the relatively low number of suspected cases caused criticism from international bodies. However, MROS only includes in its statistics those cases where prosecution authorities became involved, i.e. in 65.1 per cent of cases in 2018, up from 64.9 per cent cases in the previous year. This compares with an average of 72.4 per cent over the past ten years.


Most of the cases reported, 90 per cent of them, emanated from banks, other players in monetary transactions, asset management companies and fiduciary agents. This compares with lawyers reporting four cases only, something Finma was critical of.


The most common financial crime, amounting to 27 per cent of all cases reported, was fraud, with 317 cases of serious fiscal fraud reported, an increase of 58 per cent on the figures for 2017. In addition, there were 140 cases of disloyal management, up fivefold on the previous year.


With the number of suspected money laundering cases rising to 159 in the case of Zug, up from 81 in 2017, the canton is now in sixth place behind Zurich, Geneva, the Ticino, Bern and St Gallen when it comes to the reporting of such cases. According to MROS, most of the Zug-related cases are in connection with virtual currencies emanating from the non-banking sector, namely Crypto Valley.