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The Institutional Arrangements

The special laws relating to financial markets, namely the Banking Act, the Stock Exchange Act, the Collective Investments Act and the Insurance Supervision Act, as well as the Gaming Act, invest the specific supervisory authorities (supervisory authorities established by special laws) with the power of overall supervision of market participants in the particular financial market they regulate; those being:

- the Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC);
- the Federal Office of Private Insurance (FOPI); and
- the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (SFGB).

For financial intermediaries, who are already subordinated to one of the supervisory authorities set up under special laws, the AMLA allocates the task of supervision in the area of combating money laundering (in terms of compliance with the AMLA) to the appropriate authority. The AMLA supervision therefore lies with the SFBC for banks, securities dealers, fund managers (in so far as they manage share accounts and offer or distribute shares in collective capital investments), certain investment companies and limited partnerships for collective capital investments, as well for asset managers within the meaning of the Collective Investments Act (in so far as they offer or distribute shares in collective capital investments). Also within the framework of the AMLA, FOPI exercises supervision over the insurance institutions direct life insurance dealing in or which offer or distribute shares in collective capital investments. The SFGB is also concerned with supervision of the AMLA with regard to casinos.
At the time of the creation of the AMLA there was no supervisory authority for the non-banking sector; consequently, this law established such a body under the name of the Anti-Money Laundering Control Authority (AMLCA). As an alternative to the requirement to obtain a licence and to subordination to the AMLCA for supervision in accordance with the AMLA, the new legislation introduced controlled self-regulation for this sector (see above under "Substantive Law Features"), which allows the self-regulatory organisations, recognised and supervised by the AMLCA, to carry out surveillance of their members with regard to compliance with the obligations contained in the AMLA. Currently there are 11 such SROs in existence.

The obligation to report suspicions regarding money laundering was introduced with the AMLA. According to the FATF Recommendations, such reports on the part of financial intermediaries with regard to founded suspicions should be submitted to and treated by a central office for reporting suspicions of money laundering (a financial intelligence unit, FIU). As no such office existed in Switzerland at the time, such an office was created by the AMLA in the form of the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland, MROS. The MROS is part of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). As such, it is an administrative office of the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) and enjoys neither police nor judicial powers.

From an institutional viewpoint, the preventative aspect of combating money laundering is covered by, not only the financial intermediaries, which must comply with obligations contained in the AMLA with respect to their clients, but also the four supervisory authorities of the SFBC, FOPI, SFGB, and the AMLCA, together with the SROs recognised by the latter, and lastly, the MROS. The latter acts as a filter between the financial intermediaries and the prosecuting authorities.


Specialist staff:


Last update: 07.09.2007

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