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Switzerland must make it much harder for the corrupt to hide behind secret companies if the country wants to keep criminal activity out of its financial system. So the anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International Switzerland said as it launched the “Unmask the Corrupt” campaign in Switzerland.
TI says that Switzerland does not require the identity of the real, living people who ultimately own, control or benefit from a company. This secrecy makes it easier for corrupt foreign public officials and businesspeople to hide the origin of their stolen money from law enforcement, the public and governments who may seek its return, according to the campaigners. Transparency International believes that Switzerland must collect this information, and make it accessible to law enforcement. Public registers are the best way to do this not least since banks would be required to consult this register when undertaking due diligence on their clients.
Eric Martin, Chair of Transparency International Switzerland, said: “Switzerland needs to extend the scope of its anti-money laundering legislation in order to prevent the corrupt from hiding the proceeds of crime and corruption on its soil. No longer should the corrupt be able to get away with illicit activities, often linked to international organised crime, with the help of Switzerland.”
Transparency International Switzerland’s efforts to unmask the corrupt and throw light on company ownership is part of a broader Transparency International campaign that calls on governments worldwide to halt illicit financial flows stolen through the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals.
“For too long, the corrupt have been allowed to hide their ill-gotten gains in foreign countries. This has to stop now in the interest of all countries and their citizens,” warned Cobus de Swardt, Transparency International’s Managing Director.
In Switzerland, the campaign coincides with the parliamentary debate over a bill on the recommendations made by a Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Eric Martin said: “Switzerland needs to take responsibility and toughen its anti-money laundering legislation. The world’s financial architecture needs to be made more transparent and offshore financial centres should not allow corporate vehicles to be misused by criminals to hide their identity and stolen wealth behind secret corporate structures while enjoying a life of luxury with impunity paid from taxpayers’ money.”
For more visit the TI website.