Nov 11 2011

Four Swiss banks broke dictator asset rules

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

At least that’s the opinion of Switzerland’s financial market regulator, FINMA:

Four Swiss banks are being targeted by the market regulator for not conducting proper checks when dealing with accounts held by suspicious persons.

It’s good to see this kind of knuckle-rapping happening, but it does rather confirm what we’ve always known: Swiss banks are harbouring vast amounts of criminal wealth.

Also bear in mind that in the affected countries, only a minority share of the assets looted from a country will actually be held by the dictators and their known cronies, the Politically Exposed Persons. Much larger amounts will be dispersed among a lot of slightly less senior yet nevertheless well-connected officials. And then there’s the issue of discretionary trusts, foundations and the like, where legally speaking the assets really have no owner.

And let’s remember too: this was four banks out of 20 in an ‘extraordinary audit.’ Switzerland has over 300 banks.

Mark Herkenrath has posted a comment here, in French. He notes that the FINMA report is vague and deceptive, and it only notes those banks that themselves blocked accounts.

In other words, this is a drop in the ocean. Switzerland, despite all its protestations, remains a massive sink for the world’s dirty money.

The FINMA statement is here.

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