In 2021, the Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) recorded an increase in the number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) received for the eighth consecutive year. The 5,964 new SARs, involving more than 10,000 business relationships, represent an increase of 12% compared to 2020.
This trend once again underlines the need for MROS to continue with its current strategy, relying on greater digitalisation to perform its mandate.
Besides the increase in SARs received, the main trends emerging from the 2021 SARs were not very different from those seen in 2020: fraud remained the most frequently suspected predicate offence; once again, most of the SARs were submitted by the banking sector; and, for the second consecutive year, transaction monitoring was the greatest trigger for suspicion.
These trends can be explained in part by the large number of SARs – albeit fewer than in 2020 – received in connection with suspected fraud related to government-backed loans by financial institutions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goAML system is now well established among financial intermediaries. Throughout 2021, MROS continued to devote significant effort to helping them learn to use the system, in particular to improving the quality of the data they transmit to MROS. MROS did this by checking the quality of the data from individual financial intermediaries and providing them with consistent feedback; more than 700 systematic shortcomings were thus corrected. This process is essential in order to ensure that MROS receives good quality data, without which the digital processing and analysis of SARs would be virtually impossible. This support for financial intermediaries will therefore continue in 2022. MROS must be able to provide prosecution authorities with correct and reliable data when it transmits information from SARs.
Last year also saw the entry into force of the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA)1 granting MROS extended competences in the area of cooperation with its foreign counterparts (the new Art. 11a para. 2bis AMLA). Implementing the new provision did not cause any particular difficulties and will make the anti-money laundering system in Switzerland more effective.
The Egmont Group has taken note of this development and suspended the procedure opened against MROS for non-compliance with international standards. Further, in March 2021, a new amendment to the AMLA was adopted. It is expected to come into force in 2022 and will lead to changes for both financial intermediaries and MROS, which will be outlined in this report. MROS could not have achieved all this without the efforts of its staff. To them we would like to express our appreciation and thanks.
Bern, May 2022 Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP. Federal Office of Police fedpol. Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland MROS.
May 9, 2022 Published by The Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP Switzerland.