The transmission of information by a Swiss bank to its overseas parent is often a delicate issue, as the subsidiaries of foreign banks are subject to Swiss banking rules, including banking secrecy. Where client information is not needed for consolidated supervision, its transmission abroad will be considered as a breach of Swiss banking secrecy.
The Swiss Federal Supreme Court has ruled that where a client withdraws money with a debit card from a bank counter, the bank may be obliged to require that the client provide a signature in addition to his personal identification number. Banks should ensure that their general terms and conditions are sufficiently clear as to when additional identification will be required.
The Swiss Federal Council has mandated the Federal Department of Finance to set up a working group to prepare a draft message on the implementation of the Financial Action Task Force's 40 Recommendations. The working group will recommend changes to the Money Laundering Act and the Swiss Criminal Code in order to ensure full compliance with the revised recommendations.
The Swiss Banking Association recently issued new directives with a view towards ensuring the independence of financial research and thus preventing potential conflicts of interest. The directives also aim to ensure appropriate transparency and equal treatment of the recipients of financial research.
The Swiss Bankers Association's Due Diligence Agreement forms part of the guidelines for self-regulation drafted by the Swiss banking industry. The latest version of the agreement was issued on January 17 2003 and provides for stricter 'know-your-customer' rules, such as requesting and recording more personal data about customers.
The Swiss Federal Banking Commission recently issued its new Money Laundering Ordinance, which will take effect in July 2003. Among other things, financial intermediaries are required to ensure that their branch offices or subsidiaries outside Switzerland comply with its provisions. They must also adopt a risk-based approach to the prevention of money laundering.
In a recent circular the Swiss Federal Banking Commission summarizes its practice regarding the advertisement of investment funds. The circular also sets out regulations on the distribution of funds via the Internet.
The Swiss Federal Banking Commission recently presented two new drafts for consultation. One relates to the revision of its guidelines concerning the preparation of financial statements, while the other proposes more stringent anti-money laundering provisions.
The Swiss Federal Banking Commission (FBC) recently presented its annual management report. The report suggests that supervision of bank auditors be increased and that the scope of the FBC's control be extended to all players on the stock market. It also wants to make the provision of international assistance easier.
A Swiss Federal Court decision has left the Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC) unable to grant administrative assistance to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The decision is proof of the inadequacy of existing legislation on the provision of international administrative assistance.
Three new decisions, relating to criminal investigations brought in Pakistan against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her family, show that a bank account holder's opportunities to challenge international assistance in Switzerland are limited, particularly where the holder is an offshore company.
Eleven leading international private banks, including Credit Suisse and United Bank of Switzerland, have adopted the Wolfsberg Anti-Money Laundering Principles as global guidance for preventing the use of a bank's worldwide operations for criminal purposes.
The Swiss Banking Association has rejected the Bill on Electronic Commerce because of its inclusion of certain legal issues which are obviously not relevant to electronic commerce.
The Federal Supreme Court recently had to decide whether the Swiss Federal Banking Commission could grant administrative assistance to the French commission for stock exchange activities. On the basis of this case the court defined the conditions under which Swiss authorities may submit confidential information to foreign authorities.
Parliament has moved to ease the tax burden on Swiss securities dealers engaged in securities transactions. Subject to certain conditions, Swiss dealers no longer owe one-half of the transfer stamp tax for certain parties which are also involved in a transaction.
A new revision of the Swiss stamp duty regulation is one of a series of measures intended to increase the competitiveness of the Swiss financial market. Parliament is expected to adopt it quickly due to pressure from the Swiss Stock Exchange and the Swiss banks.
On July 24 2000 the Swiss Bankers Association's board of directors approved a revision of the association's Portfolio Management Guidelines of April 1996. The amended guidelines came into force on August 1 2000. This update describes the main modifications.
The Swiss Bankers' Association (SBA) is satisfied with the content of a report on improving access to bank information for tax purposes. Since the Swiss legal system conforms entirely with the report’s recommendations, the SBA sees no need to make any changes that would affect the protection of the individual privacy of bank customers in Switzerland.
Pension fund investments in Switzerland are governed by the Ordinance on Occupational Retirement, Survivors' and Disability Pension Plans. Its provisions concerning security and spreading of risks, indirect placements and permissible investments have recently been modified to account for the development of the financial markets.
Over the last two years the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons has searched Swiss banks for the unclaimed assets of Holocaust victims. The Swiss Federal Banking Commission which supervised the process, has recently commented on its findings.
The Swiss Federal Banking Commission has issued new regulations which deal with the outsourcing of banking activity and the requirements of Swiss banking secrecy and data protection rules.
The Swiss Bankers Association has signalled its general approval of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union, although notes it does not yet consider a closer relationship necessary because of significant involvement in decision- making for EU directives and regulations.