FINMA: Dealing with Swiss money laundering miscreants
25 May 2016

On Wednesday, the Swiss financial regulator effectively ordered the liquidation of Lugano-based BSI private bank following “serious breaches of money laundering regulation”. This is by far the most radical action taken thus far by the authorities.

BSI is being taken over by the EFG group, at which point it will cease to exist. The bank, and some of its executives, are also under investigation by the Swiss attorney general for alleged corruption regarding the 1MDB Malaysian sovereign wealth fund and the Brazilian Petrobras scandal.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) is also investigating six other banks in connection with similar money laundering allegations.

Last year, the regulator probed 29 financial institutions for suspected money laundering breaches, but ordered them to fix the problems internally rather than opt for enforcement proceedings. FINMA rarely gives details about its enforcement actions, more often than not opting against naming and shaming the guilty parties. But faced with criticism that it is not doing enough to bring errant banks to heel, FINMA has been keen to point out the number of sanctions it has imposed.

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