Home LATEST NEWS The “Swiss Secrets” rekindle the debate on the country’s financial institutions

The “Swiss Secrets” rekindle the debate on the country’s financial institutions

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On Sunday, Credit Suisse was rocked by revelations from theOrganized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a consortium of 47 media, including The world, The Guardian and the New York Timesclaiming that the bank had, for several decades, hosted funds from sulphurous clients.

The number two in the Swiss banking sector firmly rejected these accusations, considering that they were based on data partial, inaccurate Where taken out of contextpointing out that some date back to the 1940s and that 90% of the accounts concerned were now closed.

These claims appear as a concerted effort to discredit not only the bank, but the Swiss financial center as a wholereplied the bank.

Contacted by AFP, the shareholder organization Actares, which had asked the bank to initiate a dialogue after repeated scandals last year, did not hide that these revelations were not certainly not what she hoped for.

Credit Suisse must finally create transparency in a seemingly unmanageable sum of discrepancies that not only affects investors, but also the reputation of Swiss banks. »

A quote from The Actares shareholder organization

Review of legislation

Without denying the role banking secrecy has played in Switzerland’s success in the past, the Zurich daily NZZ has himself noticed in his columns that a part of the cases revealed by Suisse Secrets would no longer be possible under current legislation.

The data analyzed in this survey covers 18,000 bank accounts hosted by the bank from the early 1940s to the late 2010s.

Under strong pressure, especially after a standoff with the United States on tax evasion, but also with the twists and turns concerning stolen data handed over to the German tax authorities, Switzerland has meanwhile significantly revised its legislation.

In 2014, it had ratified a cooperation agreement with the United States obliging financial institutions to transmit certain data to the American tax authorities before signing in 2015 an agreement with Brussels concerning the automatic exchange of information.

The anti-money laundering system has been continuously developed and strengthened in recent yearsinsisted the Swiss Bankers Association in an email to AFP.

Dodgy money does not interest the Swiss financial centre, for which reputation and integrity are key factorsshe insisted.

At the same time, the legislative provisions with regard to the press have also been tightened, the major Swiss titles regretting this time not having been able to participate in the revelations of Switzerland Secrets.

A change to the banking law that came into force in July 2015 prohibits Swiss journalists from using leaked bank data in the course of their work, risking up to three years in prison.

Repercussions in Europe

That hasn’t stopped the European People’s Party (EPP) – the top party in the European Parliament – ​​from asking the European Union to consider adding Switzerland to its list of countries at high risk for money laundering. .

European and Swiss banks have close ties, which is why deficiencies in the fight against money laundering are a problem for the European financial sectorunderlined one of its managers.

According to a report published at the end of October by the Swiss Ministry of Finance, reports to the Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) were four times higher on annual average between 2015 and 2019 than over the previous 10 years.

The authors of this report explained this rain of reports by the fact that the banks, more sensitive to the risks that could affect them, had more control over their customers since major corruption cases such as the operation Lavajato in Brazil, but also since press revelations such as the Panama Papers Where Paradise Papers.

New “fire”

In the immediate future, these revelations remain no less a new fire to extinguish for the management of Credit Suisse, according to analysts at RBC Capital Markets.

Since March 2021, the bank has been rocked in turn by the bankruptcy of the financial company Greensill, the implosion of the American fund Archegos, the fines for loans to Mozambique and the abrupt resignation of its president, eight and a half months after his arrived at the controls, for breaking the quarantine rules.

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