How Switzerland benefits from international corruption

How Switzerland benefits from international corruption

01/25/2024 06:34 (current 01/25/2024 06:35)

How Switzerland benefits from international corruption


More than 400 million euros entered the Swiss treasury in just four years.

The Swiss judicial system secured a total of 437 million francs from international corruption cases for the national budget between 2018 and 2022. This sum, recovered through criminal proceedings and mutual legal assistance, is a notable example of how Switzerland benefits of global illicit financial flows. This is reported by the “Tagesanzeiger”.

Corruption on the global stage

Switzerland, a country known for its neutrality and strict banking secrecy, now finds itself in an unusual position. If corrupt officials around the world illegally obtain funds and deposit them in Swiss bank accounts, the Swiss judicial system could confiscate these funds. Interestingly, these funds are not always returned to the country of origin, but sometimes flow directly into the Swiss national budget.

70 million francs

According to “Tagesanzeiger”, a notable example is a corruption case in Malaysia, in which billions were stolen from the sovereign wealth fund, of which 70 million francs were transferred to the Swiss treasury. Switzerland also benefits from illegal activities by national companies abroad. For example, if a Swiss company is convicted of corruption, the resulting sanctions and profit taxes contribute to strengthening the Swiss financial budget.

  • Last year, Swiss federal prosecutors fined Sicpa, a security technology company, for its involvement in corruption cases in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. The resulting compensation claim worth 81 million francs flowed to the Swiss treasury. A similar case occurred with the Geneva-based company Gunvor, a player in the oil sector. Gunvor was ordered to pay 94 million francs in 2019 after the company was implicated in corrupt activities in the Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast. These funds also benefited Switzerland.

Cantons and the benefit of the federal government

The distribution of this money affects not only the federal level, but also the cantons. From 2018 to 2022, the canton of Zurich generated revenue of around 32 million francs from these procedures. These financial benefits raise questions about how Switzerland and its cantons benefit from international illicit financial flows.

Change of direction in politics?

However, there is increasing pressure to change the legal framework in order to facilitate the return of these funds. The Council of States has already demanded that the Federal Council present proposals to facilitate the return of resources confiscated abroad. A report on this will be published in the coming months. This could mean a change in current practice and open a new chapter in Swiss financial policy. (VOL.AT)