Unpaid fees lead to safe deposit caches of suspicious paintings and expensive jewellery.
A foreign client’s offshore deposits turn up possibly forged documents from the sale of tanks and high-calibre weapons to an African defence ministry.
They were among more than 1 500 suspected money-laundering cases that Swiss authorities disrupted last year, including 15 linked to terrorist financing, officials said on Tuesday.
Investigations carried out by Switzerland last year into money laundering and terror funding had revealed that money had also come from Sri Lanka to fund terrorism.
They were among more than 1,500 suspected money-laundering cases that Swiss authorities disrupted last year, including 15 linked to terrorist financing, officials said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
One of the terrorist-financing cases in 2012 involved 7.45 million francs ($7.8 million) and accounted for nearly all of the money that police investigated in connected with suspected terrorists, the Swiss federal police office reported.
None of the suspects was on any official terror list, said the annual report by the police’s Money Laundering Reporting Office.
Probes by the police office led prosecutors to open 13 terror financing cases connected to money laundering, membership in a criminal organization or other offenses, the report said. One of the cases has since been suspended.
In all, there were 1 585 “suspicious activity reports” for 2012 involving $3.3bn — just six of the reports accounted for almost half of all the money.
The past two years have seen an almost 50% jump in the number of cases compared with previous years.
Two-thirds of the cases were linked to banking, and more than 200 cases involved more than $104 000.
The rest were mainly tied to payment services, fiduciary and asset managers.
Switzerland has in recent years tried to shed its image as a haven for money laundering and tax evasion through the misuse of its vaunted banking secrecy.
Authorities have set up police units and task forces to crack down on fraud, bribery and other financial crimes and to hunt for so-called dictator assets.
The government also has signed deals with other nations to provide greater assistance to foreign tax authorities seeking information on their citizens’ accounts.
The report provided only a few specific details about a small number of cases.
Among the cases highlighted by the report:
– A bank opened the safe deposit box of a foreign client who hadn’t paid his rental fees, discovering an unusually large number of rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, watches, silver coins and other valuables.
– Another bank began monitoring transfers from Africa to offshore accounts that a foreign client said came from the sale of protective vests, but turned out to be from tanks and high-calibre weapons. The bank began to doubt undated contracts with an African defence ministry and other documents.
– One bank, after consulting with Swiss authorities and checking media reports, concluded the deposits that a South Asian couple had ascribed to commodity futures taken out on behalf of clients, may have come from kickbacks that private companies paid to the husband for handing out government-backed agricultural loans.