Investigations: licence holders

FINMA follows up all information it receives about irregularities or violations of the law committed by licence holders and decides whether or not it needs to initiate enforcement proceedings.

FINMA launches investigations whenever it receives information about irregularities or violations of the law. This information typically comes from its supervisory activities, reports by other authorities in and outside Switzerland, and complaints from investors and clients. Investigations aim to establish whether enforcement proceedings are needed or whether the irregularity can be dealt with as part of normal supervision.

Informal investigations

  • FINMA does not have a formal procedure for conducting investigations.
  • In most cases, it clarifies the facts by contacting the licence holder concerned or its audit firm directly, requesting the relevant documents and, if necessary, visiting the licence holder’s premises. Licence holders have extensive legal obligations to provide information and reports to FINMA.
  • FINMA can obtain additional information in and outside Switzerland through requests for assistance or from the investors and clients affected.

Decision to conduct formal enforcement proceedings

The decision to initiate enforcement proceedings against a licence holder, its ultimate management, owners or staff based on investigations is normally taken by FINMA Executive Board’s Enforcement Committee (ENA) or, in matters of substantial importance, FINMA’s Board of Directors. Depending on the outcome of the investigations, FINMA also decides whether to file a criminal complaint.