Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland: 2020 Annual Report
Bern, 06.04.2021 - Although 2020 proved to be an exceptional year, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) again concluded important cases and dealt with a large number of criminal and mutual assistance proceedings. Work in large, resource-intensive case complexes progressed and over CHF 500 million in unlawfully obtained funds were forfeited or made the subject of compensation claims.
Around 1000 completions in criminal and mutual assistance proceedings in 2020
The number of cases concluded remained high in 2020 – the OAG issued around 700 final decisions* in criminal proceedings and concluded around 270 mutual assistance cases. The OAG filed 29 indictments in ordinary proceedings at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, more than ever before.
Forfeitures and compensation claims of over CHF 500 million
True to the principle that crime should not pay, in 2020 the OAG secured forfeitures and compensation claims amounting to an impressive total of over CHF 500 million. Last year, forfeiture and compensation orders for a total of around CHF 64 million were issued by the OAG and the Federal Criminal Court or took full legal effect. In addition, at the end of 2020 the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Criminal Court issued decisions** in two criminal procedures***, confirming further forfeitures of around CHF 167 million and compensation claims of around CHF 82 million in the ‘MUS’ procedure and forfeitures of around CHF 200 million in money laundering proceedings relating to Uzbekistan.
Forfeitures (Art. 70 / 72 SCC) and compensation claims (Art. 71 SCC) are measures under the criminal law to obtain redress for advantages gained from criminal conduct – perpetrators should not be allowed to enjoy the financial benefits of their crimes. If the assets subject to forfeiture are no longer available, the state will normally be recognised as having a right to compensation of an equivalent amount.
In enforcing forfeitures and compensation claims, enquiries are made as to how the assets concerned will ultimately be used. Consideration is given to the possibility of sharing the assets or making restitution.
Operations guaranteed at all times
As shown above, the organisational steps taken following the resignation of the former Attorney General at the end of August 2020, guaranteed the continuation of operational business at all times. The internal task force set up in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to achieving this by mitigating the effects that the pandemic had on operations.
Cases of public interest
The Annual Report 2020 provides accounts of cases to illustrate the diversity of the statutory tasks the OAG is carrying out.
In the Petrobras-Odebrecht series of cases, for example, the OAG opened criminal proceedings against a bank in Switzerland as part of its investigations into possible criminality among financial intermediaries in Switzerland. In the investigations into allegations of corruption in the world of football, various procedures were concluded, the Federal Criminal Court issued a first instance judgment, and funds seized in Switzerland totalling around CHF 36 million were forfeited and returned to the party entitled to them.
The decision to abandon proceedings in connection with granting loan guarantees and payment deferrals in Swiss maritime navigation also generated a lot of media interest, as did the OAG’s success in securing the first instance conviction of a former member of the Ukrainian Parliament and another accused on charges of wilful money laundering as part of a criminal group.
Furthermore, in 2020 following complex investigations, the OAG filed an indictment against Credit Suisse AG, a former employee of the bank, and two members of a criminal organisation from Bulgaria. The criminal organisation was involved in importing several dozen tonnes of cocaine from South America into Europe.
In July 2020, the OAG and the public prosecutor in the Calabrian province of Catanzaro took part in a coordinated operation against a criminal organisation with links to the ’Ndrangheta. The investigations uncovered international networks involved in weapons and drug trafficking, money laundering and the import of counterfeit money from Italy.
In the fight against terrorism, the OAG also secured further important judgments. In the year under review, it was once again confirmed that close coordination and cooperation between all the prosecution and law enforcement authorities involved at national and international levels is vital in combating terrorism.
* Summary penalty orders, decisions not to bring or to abandon proceedings
** Federal Supreme Court Judgment 6B_67/2019 of 16 December 2020; Federal Criminal Court, Criminal Chamber Decision SN.2020.34 of 3 December 2020
*** See OAG Annual Report for 2018, p. 10 (Section 4.4, ‘MUS’) and 2017, p. 20 (Section 4.7, Money Laundering Proceedings (Uzbekistan))
Address for enquiries
Communications Service of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, T +41 58 464 32 40, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland