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In Switzerland money-laundering laws will be reformed

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The Swiss government has proposed three key changes to the money-laundering Act: fiduciary obligations for those involved in the establishment, management or maintenance of companies and trusts, disclosure of property rights, and the establishment of a business register.

Following the investigation of the so-called” Panamanian documents ” conducted by The international consortium of investigative journalists in 2016, the financial action task Force on money laundering (FATF) (an intergovernmental organization that works to develop international standards in the field of combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism) called on the Swiss, known for their commitment to banking secrecy, to take more active actions to prevent financial crimes.

On 1 June, the Federal government proposed three key changes to the money laundering Act, including stricter fiduciary obligations for those involved in the creation, management or maintenance of companies and trusts; disclosure of property rights; and establishment of a commercial register.

Within four months, innovations will be developed in working groups, and only then they will be considered in Parliament. Under the proposed initiative, lawyers and others would have to exercise due diligence to determine whether their clients might be bribes or involved in other offences, which had not previously been required.

“The main thing is that the government has now joined the FATF and journalists, saying that this loophole should be closed,” said ICIJ member Oliver Zilman, who writes for SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche.

Zilman testified before the European Parliament that “90 percent of Swiss lawyers” used various loopholes in the law to avoid due diligence in the case of companies involved in the offshore scandal “panamagate”.

The changes proposed by the Swiss government also include the requirement that those involved in setting up companies verify who actually owns them and regularly check the relevance of the customer information. Another proposal is to require the inclusion in the business register of associations, especially those “primarily involved in the collection or distribution of assets abroad”.

Earlier, the consortium ICIJ and its media partners have found that the head of the FIFA ethics Juan Pedro Damiani and his law firm did work for offshore companies linked to former Vice-President of FIFA, Eugenio Figueredo, who is accused by U.S. authorities of fraud and money laundering, as well as Hugo and Mariano Jenkis, father and son accused of providing bribes to obtain the rights to broadcast FIFA events in Latin America.