Report on safe-deposit boxes and their risks of abuse for money laundering and terrorist financing

Bern, 14.12.2015 - Today, the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) published a report on safe-deposit boxes and their risks of abuse for money laundering and terrorist financing. The report defines the various types of safe-deposit box in Switzerland, describes the applicable legal provisions and analyses the relevant risks. It concludes that the regulation already in place is sufficient.

The report gives an overview of the safe-deposit boxes that are actually used and their suitability for money laundering and terrorist financing abuse. Secure safe-deposit boxes that ensure an unlimited storage period for assets or valuables are exposed to a risk of abuse. Bank safe-deposit boxes, highly secure safe-deposit boxes outside of the banking sector and secure self-storage units and warehouses, in particular, meet these criteria.

The report also explains the money laundering and terrorist financing statutory framework in terms of safe-deposit box rental and the relevant rules of professional conduct. Moreover, it sheds light on the potential risks and actual abuses.

Although a potential risk of abuse does exist for certain categories of safe-deposit box, there is little evidence of actual abuse and thus of a real danger according to the report. The prosecution authorities' comprehensive access to all categories of safe-deposit box is ensured within the framework of criminal prosecution. An accumulation of incidents was not observed.

Regulation would be disproportionate

The FDF concluded in the report that extending the term "financial intermediation" to the purely physical storage of assets would be complex and expected to be associated with high costs. Furthermore, it is important to note that the existing regulation is in line with the international standards.

Given that the explanations in the report identify no distinct public interest to justify additional regulation, the FDF believes that the existing regulation is sufficient with regard to the principle of proportionality. It will nevertheless monitor developments and review additional measures if necessary.

This report is being published in response to a postulate of Councillor of States Fabio Abate (14.4049) and questions from Parliament in 2014. In addition, it should create a basis for future discussions on this topic.

Address for enquiries

Anne C├ęsard, Communications, State Secretariat for International Financial Matters SIF
Tel. +41 58 462 62 91,


Federal Department of Finance