A Critical Analysis of Systems in Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the USA
Edited by Mark Pieth and Gemma Aiolfi
Chapter 4: Country Report: Combating money laundering in Switzerland
Nadja Capus I HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT AND SIGNIFICANCE OF SWITZERLAND AS A FINANCIAL CENTRE A The Significance of Swiss Banking Today Although a relatively small country, Switzerland ranks as one of the major financial centres in the world. This importance is also reflected domestically with the banking industry being one of the most important sectors of the economy, employing around 5.7 per cent of the working population according to data from 2000.1 Asset management alone accounts for over half of the banks’ output which translates to over SFr. 20 bn, or more than 5 per cent of GDP; of this an estimated 85 per cent is generated by private clients. The banks also have extensive experience in cross-border asset management (that is, with customers domiciled abroad); with an estimated 30 per cent of the internationally invested private assets world-wide being managed in Switzerland.2 There are some 375 banks in Switzerland (of which 150 are foreign banks), only 25 per cent of these banks have total assets that exceed SFr. 1 bn, however they account for 95 per cent of the aggregate total assets of all banks in Switzerland. In international terms, the status of banks’ balance sheets indicate the degree to which Swiss banks are involved in foreign business: By the end of 2000, the combined foreign assets of all Swiss banks amounted to SFr. 1175 bn and foreign liabilities amounted to SFr. 1085 bn, which constitutes 55.3 per cent and 51.1 per cent, respectively of the balance sheet totals.3 In...
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