Switzerland has a fundamental interest in ensuring that no illicitly acquired assets of politically exposed persons enter its financial centre. Switzerland's proactive policy has made it an international leader in this domain.
Illicitly acquired assets of politically exposed persons
The phenomenon of illicitly acquired assets of politically exposed persons (PEP)s involves cases in which foreign PEPs or persons with close links to them illicitly enrich themselves by appropriating assets either through corruption or as a result of other criminal activities, and deposit them in financial centres outside their country of origin.
PEPs are persons who exercise prominent public functions abroad, specifically heads of state and government, senior politicians at national level, and senior officials in the government, judiciary, military and parties at national level, as well as in the highest bodies in state-owned companies of national importance.
The cornerstones of Swiss policy on dealing with illicitly acquired assets of PEPs are contained in the strategy adopted in 2014.
For a number of reasons, it is in Switzerland's interest not to serve as a depository for illicitly acquired assets of PEPs:
- Commitment to the rule of law and to fight impunity
For years, Switzerland has demonstrated its commitment to the rule of law and supported the fight against impunity. These principles are enshrined in the Swiss Confederation’s foreign policy strategy 2020–2023.
Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–2023
- Promoting transparency as a donor country in international development cooperation
Illicitly acquired assets of PEPs are an important development policy issue. The World Bank estimates that each year the channelling of illicitly acquired assets of PEPs from developing countries to foreign financial centres causes losses totalling between USD 20-40 billion. As a donor country in an international development cooperation context, Switzerland believes it is important that financial support to partner countries be transferred in keeping with the principles of transparency and good governance and, as far as possible, in a way that prevents any abuses.
- Reputation and integrity
Reputation and integrity are two key factors in global competition between financial centres. Switzerland does not wish to serve as a depository for assets acquired by PEPs through corruption and other criminal activities.
The proactive policy pursued by Switzerland in returning stolen assets has made it an international leader in this domain. Over the last 30 years Switzerland has successfully returned approximately USD 2 billion of stolen assets to their countries of origin.
Pour que le crime ne paie pas: L’expérience de la Suisse en matière de restitution d’avoirs illicites
Il denaro pubblico alla luce del sole: L’esperienza della Svizzera nella restituzione dei fondi illeciti delle persone politicamente esposte
No al dinero de la corrupción: La experiencia de Suiza en el ámbito de la restitución de activos ilícitos
Switzerland is a pioneer with its policy in the fight against illegally acquired assets, contribution by Ambassador Roberto Balzaretti, Director of the Directorate of International Law, L’Agefi, 27.02.2017
Switzerland’s thirty years of engagement in the recovery of assets, speech by Ambassador Roberto Balzaretti, Director of the Directorate of International Law, on the occasion of the International Law Day 2016, 12.12.2016
No safe havens: a global forum on stolen asset recovery and development, speech by Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey on the occasion of the global forum on stolen asset recovery and development, Paris, 08.06.2010