In its session on October 12, 2022, the Swiss Federal Council (government) instructed the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) to draft a bill on creating a register of beneficial owners of certain designated companies by the end of June 2023 to increase transparency and combat money laundering. The register would be nonpublic and available only to certain designated public authorities. A December 2021 report by the Federal Council to implement recommendations from the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes stated that transparency and identification of the beneficial owners of legal entities needed to be improved.
Furthermore, the FDF was tasked with incorporating further measures to strengthen the currently existing money laundering mechanisms, in particular, with deciding “whether further adjustments should be made to the anti-money laundering [AML] toolkit, for instance in the area of legal professions.” A proposal to extend AML legislation to legal and other consulting professions was deleted from a 2021 amendment to AML legislation after strong opposition from attorneys, notaries, and other professionals. The 2021 amendments to the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) (Geldwäschereigesetz, GwG) and the Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance (Geldwäschereiverordnung, GwV) will enter into force on January 1, 2023.
Both the United States and the European Union (EU) have created registers of beneficial owners to combat money laundering. The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML 2020), which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, instructed the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), among other things, to create a nonpublic registry for beneficial owners of reporting companies. (AML 2020, § 6002, para. 6.) In addition, on September 30, 2022, FinCEN published a final rule in the Federal Register establishing a beneficial ownership information reporting requirement for certain entities. The rule will take effect on January 1, 2024.
Likewise, article 30 of the EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AML 4) required the EU member states to create national central registers for beneficial ownership information. Registers had to be set up by January 10, 2020. The EU is gradually interconnecting all the national registers in its Beneficial Ownership Register Interconnection System (BORIS).
Jenny Gesley, Law Library of Congress
November 22, 2022
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