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Opinion: Dark money and Swiss banks


The beautiful alpine countryside, vast lakes and an idyllic skiing holiday destination Switzerland seems like the type of place to trust. But why are vast amounts of dark money still being laundered in its bank accounts?

In a recent article in Private Eye magazine – Zeitgeist from Zurich – questions are being asked about the lack of whistleblowing that occurs in relation to dark money laundering in Switzerland. Since the banking crisis the swamp of incredulity associated with Swiss savings accounts became exposed, causing UBS to pay $780 million and Credit Suisse to pay $2.6 billion to US authorities, as a result of hiding money for unscrupulous clients. In addition, in 2016, a further 80 Swiss banks received a share of $1.36 billion, in fines, from US authorities for similar misconduct (Private Eye, July, 2017).

The progress on clamping down on corruption within the Swiss banking sector is making headway. A 2016 report from the Financial Action Task Force praised the progress that had been made in Switzerland. There have been several prosecutions connected to high level money laundering and financial misappropriation. The most notable case was the IMDB case which allegedly saw the misappropriation of $4bn by Malaysian officials (Private Eye, July, 2017).


However Swiss authorities are justifiably concerned by the level of onus being placed on the ethics in their banking sector when the UK and the US are equally in the mire. Such double standards are clearly frustrating when the tentacles of corruption spreads to every country on the planet.

Although an anti-corruption platform was unveiled in 2015, whistleblowing appears to be too risky, as ‘almost no one at all’ has used the platform (Private Eye, July, 2017) This can be attributed to the fear associated with taking on massively tyrannical groups of organised criminals, who can fork out vast quantities of money to pay crooked lawyers and legal adviser, to do their dirty work. Not only that but any individual taking on criminality on such a large scale is taking an obvious risk.