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The Swiss Prosecutors have launched an investigation, not after the bank but against the Suisse Secrets Whistleblower.
Switzerland is known for its enforcement of strict banking laws. Article 47 of the country’s Banking Act states that anyone who “discloses information about bank customers to other people” will be charged and can be imprisoned for up to three years.
This law also applies to Journalists who expose criminal behaviours and other wrongdoings such as money laundering and tax evasion, to the public interest. Essentially, the country is considered a safe haven for illegal finances, where they are safe without any chances of discovery.
The country’s parliament ultimately decided not to reform its banking privacy laws, though the disclosures of Suisse Secrets attracted the EU, World Bank and even Switzerland’s own political parties.
The OAG (Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland), confirmed the media reports that it received a “criminal complaint” in the so-called “Suisse Secrets” case.
“In this connection, the OAG is conducting criminal proceedings on suspicion of economic intelligence, violation of business secrecy and banking secrecy,” it said in an email to AFP.
The prosecutors will now strive to pinpoint the individual behind the leak, exposing roughly 18,000 Credit Suisse accounts and 30,000 account holders, dating back as far as the 1940s. If found, the whistleblower may face prosecution for economic spying.
Switzerland considers economic espionage a political offence, and the MPC (Federal Prosecutors Office) pointed to the authorisation from the Federal Council and FDJP (Federal Department of Justice and Police) to proceed.
Credit Suisse denied all the allegations of transgressions following the investigation’s release. Still, some people in the Swiss political area point to Article 47 as a gateway for the country’s financial institutions to get away.
The individual behind the leaks reached out to Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, in which they criticised banking secrecy as “immoral” and how it deprives “developing countries of much-needed tax revenues.”
They similarly addressed Switzerland’s citizens, mentioning, “the responsibility for this situation does not lie with the banks but rather with the Swiss legal system..Simply put, Swiss lawmakers are responsible for enabling financial crimes and—by virtue of their direct democracy—the Swiss people have the power to do something about it.”