Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland: Annual Report 2017
Bern, 20.04.2018 - In 2017, the core operational business of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) once again focused on dealing with major case complexes related to international white-collar crime and resource-intensive proceedings in connection with jihadist terrorism. In addition, the new organisational structures introduced in 2016 had to be consolidated and strategic goals implemented. Reports on the country evaluation by the FATF* and from GRECO* commended the OAG’s contribution to combating international corruption and money laundering. In relation to the OECD* Anti-Bribery Convention, the OAG was also involved in Switzerland’s Phase 4 country examination in the report year.
The OAG operates a consistent but demanding and resource-intensive policy of prosecuting anyone who attempts to take part in jihadist terrorism or to support it by means of propaganda material. In the report year, the OAG also faced challenges in relation to white-collar crime. Dealing with major case complexes such as Petrobras/Odebrecht, 1MDB or the football corruption cases by setting up multi-disciplinary case teams proved its value. In addition, the series of cases related to the Arab Spring entered its final phase. In the course of the year, various cases were partly concluded and seized assets were returned.
Structure for combating cybercrime
In order to combat cybercrime, in the course of the year the OAG added to its team of cyber prosecutors. Based on a detailed analysis of the case law from the Federal Criminal Court, precise criteria were devised that can be applied in future when deciding on whether the OAG has jurisdiction in this field. In particular the international character of the case, its technical difficulties and the extent to which the case has connections with Switzerland will be examined. It has become clear that the OAG has to take a global approach to tackling cybercrime and cannot restrict itself to the issue of jurisdiction under Criminal Procedure Code. Cooperation with other national, international, private and state actors in combating cybercrime and the question of resources and the goals to be achieved are matters that must be addressed in order to achieve an effective and concerted procedure. The practical aspects of implementing these considerations are currently being discussed by the team of cyber prosecutors with various services within the OAG.
Facts & Figures
Despite setting priorities and a consistently high number of concluded cases, at the end of 2017 478 investigations were still ongoing, which corresponds to an increase of around eight per cent in comparison with the previous year. Increasingly complex cases with ever larger international dimensions represent a major challenge for the OAG. To deal with these cases, the OAG is relying on case teams and task forces which operate in multiple locations and draw on the expertise of various sections. Major case complexes such as Petrobras/Odebrecht and the like also generate an increasing workload in relation to requests for mutual legal assistance.
In the report year, the OAG opened 237 new investigations (previous year: 190) and filed 21 indictments in the Federal Criminal Court (previous year: 14), three of which (3) were dealt with under the simplified procedure. The OAG issued 788 (1094) summary penalty orders. As a summary penalty order can only be issued in respect of one person, it is possible for several summary penalty orders to be issued in a single case. The number of investigations still ongoing at the end of the year (478) increased marginally. 197 new requests for mutual assistance were received (previous year: 193). A total of 187 requests were dealt with (186).
The centralised unit processing incoming communications at the OAG dealt with 1161 enquiries in the report year. These included 171 requests for the OAG to take over cases; in more than 80 % of requests, federal jurisdiction was recognised. In addition, 367 MROS reports were processed.
Cooperation with international and national partners
Networking with both national and international partners is working well. In particular, participation in various international organisations and working groups has brought the OAG clear benefits in its own investigations with regard to productive responses to requests for mutual assistance.
In relation to cooperation with national partners, the OAG enjoys especially good relations with the Federal Criminal Police (FCP), the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA). It aims to increase cooperation with the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) in the future in order to exploit the synergies that their respective spheres of activity offer. Involvement in the Conference of Swiss Public Prosecutors (CSPP) also fosters a close relationship between the OAG and the cantonal prosecution authorities.
In response to the FATF and GRECO country evaluations that Switzerland underwent in 2016, the OAG has implemented recommendations in its sphere of competence. The OAG also introduced a code of conduct and decided that any disciplinary investigations opened or carried out in the report year against federal prosecutors will be mentioned in a special section of the annual report. The report year saw Switzerland undergo the Phase 4 country examination. The results of this examination, in which the OAG was closely involved, was approved and published by the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery in March 2018.
*FATF: Financial Action Task Force
*GRECO: Group of States against Corruption
*OECD: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Address for enquiries
André Marty, Head of Communications & Public Affairs at the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, +41 58 464 32 40; firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland