Swiss open up to exchange of money-laundering data

Switzerland has amended its law to allow it to exchange more financial data to help in the international fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism

Switzerland, under fire for its rigid laws protecting financial privacy, had been warned it faced suspension from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, a group of government agencies that aims to improve cooperation to root out money laundering and terrorist finance.

“With this amendment we are in line with the principles of information exchange of the Egmont Group,” Judith Voney, spokeswoman for the Federal Office of Police, told Reuters by telephone.

Current Swiss law forbids the communication of details such as bank account numbers, financial transactions or bank balances to non-Swiss authorities.

Under the amendment, the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) can share such details with its international counterparts rather than simply providing administrative assistance.

The amendment does not apply to money or other assets frozen or seized under the terms of international sanctions, but only cases linked to money laundering and the financing of terrorism, Voney said.