Federal Council presents overview of financial market policy

Bern, 19.12.2012 - During its meeting today, the Federal Council adopted an overview of financial market policy. Included are measures to boost the competitiveness of the financial centre and to combat abuses in a more targeted manner. All of the measures outlined in the report aim to maintain and improve the quality, stability and integrity of the financial centre.

The strategic orientation of Switzerland's financial market policy is geared towards boosting competitiveness, combating financial crime and the investment of untaxed assets in Switzerland more intensively, concluding international withholding tax agreements with more countries and enshrining standard-compliant administrative and mutual assistance in law. A package of measures, each consistently focused on the objectives of quality, stability and integrity, should help to ensure that the framework for the Swiss financial centre is optimised and respected internationally.

Strengthening competitiveness

Traditionally strong in wealth management, Switzerland's financial market has growth potential above all in the areas of asset management, pension funds and the capital market. In order to be able to better exploit this potential, the Federal Council is prepared to undertake an in-depth analysis of the business environment for the financial centre. Regulatory and tax adjustments should not only improve conditions for existing business areas, but also enable the private sector to develop new business areas.

Due diligence requirements and combating abuses

The Federal Council is stepping up its efforts to combat abuses in the area of money laundering and taxation. By swiftly implementing the revised Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Switzerland is emphasising that it attaches high priority to the obligations it assumes through its international commitments. Serious tax offences will now be punishable also under the heading of money laundering. In the event that they suspect serious tax offences, financial intermediaries must report these cases to the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland.

Furthermore, withholding tax agreements, administrative and mutual assistance in accordance with the international standard and additional due diligence requirements represent effective and forward-looking means of combating abuses in the area of taxation. At the same time, they can help ensure that the legitimate need for protection of clients' privacy is preserved. Switzerland will therefore continue to consistently pursue the route that it has followed since 2009 to resolve problems in the area of taxation. The agreements with the United Kingdom and Austria should be followed by agreements with other countries both within and outside Europe.

When accepting new assets, financial intermediaries should take into account not only the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing, but also tax considerations. On 14 December 2012, the Federal Council instructed the FDF to present a corresponding consultation draft at the start of 2013. The aim of the due diligence requirements is to prevent the acceptance of untaxed assets. As with the due diligence requirements for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, the scope of the examination is based on the degree of risk posed by the contracting party. The consultation procedure on the improvement of due diligence requirements in the area of taxation will commence at the same time as that on the implementation of the revised FATF Recommendations.

Accompanying measures

The accompanying measures take particular account of the close ties between the financial sector and the wider economy. Both companies and households are reliant on a financial centre which functions properly and which can satisfy the various client needs with a cost-effective and multifaceted product range. This includes not only a developed capital market for corporate financing, but also regulations that ensure that clients are appropriately informed.

Address for enquiries

Mario Tuor, Head of SIF Communications
+41 31 322 46 16, mario.tuor@sif.admin.ch


The Federal Council

Federal Department of Finance