Initiation of consultation on strengthening the Swiss anti-money laundering framework

At its meeting on 30 August 2023, the Swiss Federal Council initiated the consultation procedure for a new law intended to strengthen Switzerland’s anti-money laundering framework. With a federal register of beneficial owners, due diligence for particularly risky activities in legal professions, and other provisions mentioned in the Federal Council’s press release, the aim is to strengthen the integrity and competitiveness of Switzerland as a financial and business location. Furthermore, the prosecution authorities should be able to determine more quickly and accurately who is behind a legal structure if there is greater transparency.

The most important provisions of the proposed law are as follows: i) the introduction of a federal register in which companies and other legal entities in Switzerland must register with details of their beneficial ownership, ii) the application of the duties of care under money laundering law when carrying out certain advisory activities (in particular legal advice) that involve an increased risk of money laundering, and iii) additional measures to strengthen the fight against money laundering, including but not limited to measures against the evasion or violation of sanctions under the Swiss Embargo Act and the lowering of the threshold for cash payments in precious metals trading from CHF 100,000 to CHF 15,000.

The Federal Council has announced that the consultation on the legislation in question will last until 29 November 2023. The Federal Council will then submit the dispatch to Parliament in 2024. The Federal Council emphasized that the measures would adhere to the international standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for combating money laundering and financing terrorism.

The international pressure on Switzerland to strengthen its anti-money-laundering measures and increase the accountability of its legal professionals continues to increase. From a foreign perspective, Switzerland is accused of not doing enough to freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs. The Federal Council is particularly concerned that the legal profession has nearly fallen into disrepute as a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, posing a reputational risk for the entire financial centre as the NZZ analysed.

These are the upcoming dates for our Annual General Meetings:

Thursday, 21 March 2024
Thursday, 20 March 2025