Switzerland should review its strategy to recover illicit funds – rts.ch

The federation should review its strategy for recovering illegal assets blocked in Switzerland. The current legal basics are very vague. The Federal Audit Office notes that the procedures are inconsistent and often very lengthy.

In the last twenty years, Bern has repaid nearly two billion francs from foreign public funds in connection with a dozen cases. The Federal Reserve for Control for Finance (CDF) said in an audit released on Wednesday that nearly $ 1 billion could be withdrawn in the coming years.

After the assets of the Arab Spring and the assets of former dictators Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia) and Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), other cases such as the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia and the Petrobras and Karimova case in Brazil continued to make headlines. Uzbekistan.

Lack of criteria

The problem is that federal law on the prevention and restoration of patriarchal values ​​of illegal origin, which came into force in 2016, is about the exceptional events of a sudden regime change. According to the CDF, the “law of circumstance”, drawn in the context of the Arab Spring, was rarely used.

International mutual legal aid and criminal proceedings in Switzerland are the main means of investigation. But the CDF states that these fall under other legal frameworks and, above all, do not provide for the sending of funds. So there are no clear criteria to explain why reviews follow one path without following another.

Disappointing expectations

The lack of clear criteria for withdrawing money, with or without conditions, blurs the federation and its synchronicity in Switzerland and criticizes financial regulation. As a result, despite the recognized activity in the region, Switzerland is struggling to find support from southern and developing countries.

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Cases involving politically explicit persons (PEPs) or former leaders create strong expectations in the countries concerned, the CDF recalls. However, there is a large gap between the length of legal action and political concerns. It takes 10 to 15 years to decide whether to seize or release the funds.

“The federation has often promised too many decisions too quickly. This creates frustration and real inconsistency with intentions,” the audit said. However, Switzerland has a policy of repaying assets “as soon as possible”.

No overview

Another problem is that there is no perspective on what happens to energy-related lawsuits or withheld sums, and financial control continues. Restructuring procedures are followed by the Federal Foreign Office (FDFA) only in limited cases.

Information on unconditional restructuring cases involving PEPs is “highly sticky and incomplete.” They are scattered between the Federal Office of Justice (OFJ) and prosecutors. The CDF estimates that an annual monitoring of the withheld funds, the outcome of the proceedings and the target of the confiscated funds should be set.

New strategy coming soon

The Fiscal Regulation recommends that the Federal Council now set clear criteria for determining in which cases withdrawals are subject to conditions. Who decides which way to go.

The government, in response, announces a plan for a new strategy, which should be presented in 2022. The State Council took up the issue and submitted a report on monitoring the illegal recovery of property in 2019.

ats / jfe

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