Swiss revamp antiquated money laundering, terrorism finance report system

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland is overhauling its 21-year-old system for reporting suspected money laundering and terrorism financing, Swiss federal police said on Wednesday, after concluding the old system that relies on fax or mail has outlived its usefulness.

From 2020, Switzerland plans to use an anti-money laundering programme from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime called “goAML” which is currently being used by financial intelligence units in 49 other countries including Germany, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and Finland.

Switzerland, the world’s largest repository for offshore wealth, last year logged 6,126 suspicious activity reports and has been involved in a high profile corruption probes like an investigation into Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras and Malaysia’s sovereign fund 1MDB.

The reporting system currently used by the nation’s Money Laundering Reporting Office was installed in 1998 and requires time-consuming manual entry by Federal Police employees, a handicap in pursuing white-collar corruption or suspected activities to prop up terrorist groups such as Islamic State.

“This way of working is no longer suitable,” the Swiss Federal Police office said, after the Swiss government approved changes to laws necessary to put the UN information system in place next year.

“The new system makes it possible to quickly evaluate transactions as well as create diagrams of money flows and relationships,” federal police added.

Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill