AMLA: Anti Money Laundering Act

The Swiss Anti Money Laundering Act (AMLA) has been in effect since April 1, 1998. It defines a long list of rights and responsibilities relating to various service providers and financial intermediaries.

Rules cover trading in currencies, derivatives, precious metals and commodities, as well as lending or payment transaction services and wealth management. The Anti Money Laundering Act is one of the strictest of its kind worldwide.

All financial intermediaries are subordinate to the Act. Independent wealth managers are also considered to be financial intermediaries. This includes those that do not work in the banking sector but still, in the course of their business, manage or transfer wealth for another party.

However, investment consultation alone does not typically fall under the Anti Money Laundering Act. The administration of wealth investment vehicles which do not qualify as financial instruments was not previously restricted by the Act. However, this has changed as of 2016.

As of January 1, 2016, amendments have been made to the ACT which affect jewelry, watches, real estate and fine art. Regulations on the art trade now require those making art purchases worth more than 100,000 francs to provide personal identification.

The AMLA places special due diligence obligations on financial intermediaries, including wealth managers.

These include an obligation to take steps to prevent money laundering. If a wealth manager suspects a customer of money laundering, they are required to report their suspicion to the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS).

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.