Parliament adopted the revised Federal Act on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (Anti-Money Laundering Act, AMLA) at the end of March this year, and now the Federal Council is opening the consultation process for the revised Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance (AMLO). In addition to the amendments to AMLO, the Federal Council has also proposed amendments to the Ordinance on the Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS), the Commercial Register Ordinance (CRO), the Precious Metals Control Ordinance (PMCO) and the Ordinance on the Fees for Precious Metal Control (PMC-FeeO). In addition, the Federal Customs Administration (FCA) is opening a consultation on the FCA Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance. Individual changes in the revised AMLO are outlined below.
New rules regulating the details regarding the termination of business relationships in AMLO
Pursuant to the Federal Council’s proposal, details of the termination of business relationships based directly on AMLA will now be regulated at ordinance level – these were previously the subject of the supervisory authority’s AMLO (AMLO-FINMA) and/or the relevant Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) provisions.
- Pursuant to Art. 12a of the draft version of AMLO, the financial intermediary still may not terminate a business relationship on submission of an MROS report – irrespective of whether this is based on the right or the obligation to report. With regard to the obligation to report, it is now the report itself that triggers the termination prohibition (and no longer the fact that the prerequisites for an obligation to report are theoretically met).
- Art. 12a para. 2 of the draft version of AMLO now regulates the case of 'dubious legal relationships' at ordinance level. The term is not legally defined here, but is nevertheless paraphrased. This concerns cases in which a financial intermediary does not have reasonable suspicion following investigations based on Art. 6 AMLA and thus has no obligation to report, but the prerequisites for the right to report are satisfied even though the financial intermediary decides not to make use of this right.
Abolition of the analysis period
The revision of AMLA includes the abolition of the 20-day analysis period of MROS reports. The sector assented to this abolition on the condition that provisions will be adopted as part of the revision of AMLA that allow a financial intermediary to terminate a business relationship (after an MROS report has been made) under certain circumstances. This matter was directly taken into account in AMLA itself: Art. 9b AMLA specifies that the financial intermediary may terminate the business relationship at its discretion if MROS does not notify it within 40 working days of a report that it has forwarded the information reported to a prosecuting authority. This provision does not apply to all possible MROS reports, but only those pursuant to Art. 9 para. 1a AMLA or Art. 305ter para. 2 Swiss Criminal Code.
The AMLO-FINMA and the FDJP provisions to date go further here and also cover reports concerning comparison with terrorist lists (Art. 9 para. 1c AMLA) and regulate the conduct of financial intermediaries if the reported information has been forwarded to a prosecuting authority or a block has been imposed by a prosecuting authority. So that this does not create a regulatory or legal vacuum, the draft consultation paper now covers these cases at ordinance level.
It should be noted that the provisions mentioned here apply to all financial intermediaries subject to AMLA and no longer only to financial intermediaries pursuant to Art. 2 para. 3 AMLA.
Consequences of DSFI status being repealed
On 1 January 2020, the status of financial intermediaries directly subordinate to FINMA supervision (DSFI) was repealed due to the entry into force of the Financial Institutions Act (FinIA). All financial intermediaries pursuant to Art. 2 para. 3 AMLA must now be affiliated with a self-regulating organisation (SRO). The previous right to choose between affiliating with an SRO or submitting a DSFI request no longer applies. The proposed provisions in Arts. 11 and 12 AMLO now reflect these aspects, taking into account the new regulatory environment with FinIA.
Consultation period ends in January 2022
The consultation will run until 17 January 2022. All the documents can be accessed from the website of the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) (https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/media-releases.msg-id-85324.html).