EU Urged to Review Switzerland’s Financial Safety Over ‘Suisse Secrets’ Leak

© AFP 2023 / FABRICE COFFRINIA picture taken on June 13, 2016 shows a branch of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse behind a window under the rain, in Basel
A picture taken on June 13, 2016 shows a branch of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse behind a window under the rain, in Basel - Sputnik International, 1920, 23.02.2022
On Monday, the European People's Party called on the EU to review its ties with Switzerland and consider whether the country should be added to the bloc's money-laundering blacklist amid fallout from a huge leak of Credit Suisse banking data.
The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) as well as Renew Europe, the second- and the third-largest parties in the European Parliament, respectively, have demanded that the EU assess whether Switzerland should be designated a high-risk country for money-laundering and financial crime following the Credit Suisse leak.

Referring to the leak dubbed “Suisse Secrets”, Jonas Fernandez, an S&D MEP and the party’s spokesperson for economic and monetary affairs, said that “these latest revelations show that too many of the world’s largest banks have still not learned their lesson”.

He accused those banks of being “only too willing to accept dirty money, as long as they can pocket the fees”.
“Money laundering thrives on secrecy and banks being able to operate in the shadows without consequence. While we are fighting social inequalities and paying for our recovery from the pandemic, the Suisse Secrets remind us of the true injustices that we are up against”, Fernandez added.
The S&D spokesman called on the EU “to look again at Switzerland’s anti-money-laundering credentials and ensure the EU’s list of high-risk countries is fit for purpose as an instrument for fighting dirty money”.
He was echoed by Renew Europe’s economic affairs spokesperson Luis Garicano, who argued that “The Suisse Secrets investigation suggests serious shortcomings in the Swiss banking system, which raise grave ethical and regulatory concerns”.
“We expect the European Commission to take these findings into consideration when it next reviews its list of high-risk third countries. The fact that the world’s criminals and despots can launder money so easily on the EU’s doorstep is unacceptable”, Garicano stressed.

Largest European Parliament Party Urges EU to Review Ties With Switzerland

The Renew Europe spokesman’s remarks followed the European People's party (EPP) urging the EU to review its ties with Switzerland and consider whether the country should be added to the bloc's money-laundering blacklist amid fallout from the “Suisse Secrets” leak.
Markus Ferber, the economic affairs coordinator for the EPP, the largest party in the European Parliament, warned on Monday that “when Swiss banks fail to apply international anti-money-laundering standards properly, Switzerland itself becomes a high-risk jurisdiction”.
He also told reporters that “when the list of high-risk third countries in the area of money laundering is up for revision the next time, the European Commission needs to consider adding Switzerland to that list".
Ferber spoke as the Swiss Bankers Association responded to the Suisse Secrets leak by arguing that Switzerland’s financial sector “has no interest in money of dubious origin” and that “it attaches the greatest importance to the maintenance of its reputation and integrity”.
Credit Suisse itself vehemently rejected “the allegations and inferences about the bank's purported business practices”.
According to Credit Suisse, “the matters presented are predominantly historical, in some cases dating back as far as the 1940s, and the accounts of these matters are based on partial, inaccurate, or selective information taken out of context, resulting in tendentious interpretations of the bank's business conduct”.
The lender lashed out at what it described as a “concerted effort to discredit not only the bank but the Swiss financial marketplace as a whole, which has undergone significant changes over the last several years”.

'Suisse Secrets' Leak

The leaked information, which covered 18,000 Credit Suisse accounts holding more than $100 billion, came from a whistleblower who shared his findings with the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung more than a year ago. The leak pertained to personal, shared, and corporate accounts, opened from the 1940s to the 2010s.
The newspaper then shared the data with the non-profit journalist group Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), as well as 46 media outlets around the world, including The Guardian, Le Monde, and The New York Times.
After spending months poring over the info, the news organisations and the OCCRP suggested in a probe that Credit Suisse accounts had been used by clients involved in such serious crimes as torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, and corruption. According to the inquiry, account holders included a Yemeni spy chief, Venezuela's former Vice Energy Minister Nervis Villalobos, and the sons of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Paul Radu, co-founder of the OCCRP, said in the statement that he has “too often seen criminals and corrupt politicians who can afford to keep on doing business as usual, no matter what the circumstances, because they have the certainty that their ill-gotten gains will be kept safe”.
“Our investigation exposes how these people can bypass regulation despite their crimes, to the detriment of democracies and people all over the world”, Radu underlined.
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