Swiss Federal Banking Commission  deutsch français

Frequently Asked Questions

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Measures against autorized institutions
Who will assist me if I am in dispute with an institution which is subject to the Law?

Client complaints are one of the sources of information for the SFBC's prudential supervisory activity. In particular, they serve to bring to light any irregularities at supervised institutions. The SFBC receives hundreds of complaints from clients of its supervised institutions every year. As a general rule, however, it is unable to provide direct assistance to clients who have a complaint. In effect, as an administrative authority, the SFBC was created to serve the best interests of the banking and investment community rather than the interests of individual investors. It therefore has no power to adjudicate on claims from individual clients (which must be resolved by a civil court) or to replace the penal courts in the prosecution and judgement of the penal provisions of the laws on financial market supervision or of the Swiss Penal Code.

For difficulties of a civil nature, clients may contact the Swiss Banking Ombudsman:

Swiss Banking Ombudsman
Bahnhofplatz 9
P.O. Box 1818
CH-8021 Zurich

Phone  (8:30-11:30) :
+41 (0) 43 266 14 14    German / English
+41 (0) 21 311 29 83    French / Italian

Fax: +41 (0) 43 266 14 15

The Ombudsman is a neutral and independent intermediary. He may propose solutions, but does not have any authority to render binding decisions. He provides information to the parties, and submits settlement proposals to them. The Ombudsman’s services are free of charge. This route, however, is not available for disputes with companies that are not members of the Swiss Bankers' Association.

When the SFBC launches legal proceeding against a supervised institution based on a client complaint, the client in question does not participate in such proceeding. The SFBC may, therefore, not provide any information to the client as to either the existence of a proceeding, or its progress. Any information related to any such proceeding is subject to official secrecy, as is the activity of bank supervision in general.

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Which possibilities does the SFBC have to intervene in the case of supervised institutions?

The SFBC issues rulings as are necessary in order to implement the Law and monitors compliance with the provisions of the Law and the business rules. When it has knowledge of violations of the Law or of other irregularities it must ensure that an orderly state of affairs is restored and that the irregularities are eliminated. It will issue rulings necessary to this effect.

Within the framework of its authority to issue rulings, the SFBC has wide discretionary powers in the selection of measures which it judges appropriate to attain the purpose of the Banking and Stock-Exchange Acts. The protection of creditors and investors and the confidence which the public places in the financial system constitute the main criteria in this respect. In selecting suitable measures, the SFBC must at all times observe the principle of proportionality and select measures which least interfere with the rights of the parties involved whilst nevertheless attaining their purpose.

Should the matter relate to a licensed company, the measures which may be taken by the SFBC can extend to the withdrawal of the license which would trigger the dissolution of the legal entity. Other possibilities constituting less drastic measures, however, are available to the SFBC. It can issue instructions to a licensed institution, require enhancements in the internal organisation, reprimand wrongful conduct, require the removal of governing bodies which no longer fulfil the requirement to guarantee the proper conduct of business operations. The SFBC may order, in addition, extraordinary audits in order to subject certain parts of the business activity of an institution to an independent review. Should the claims of the creditors be in jeopardy but there are reasons to expect a turn-around in the situation, the SFBC may appoint an mandated investigator to overview the activities of the governing bodies. The same step can be taken by the SFBC in order to investigate a matter in greater detail.

In the field of collective investment schemes, the SFBC may, in addition, oblige authorized parties to provide security deposits. It may require the appointment of experts to appraise the value of property assets of real estate funds or real estate investment companies, and remove from office the appointed appraised experts. Furthermore, the SFBC may appoint an administrative receiver to the authorized party which is no longer able to operate.

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