Article 2, paragraph 3 MLA [Federal act on the prevention of money laundering in the financial sector, Money laundering act (MLA)] gives a list of clearly defined categories of activities that are subject to regulation. But there are also more complex cases, which require an in-depth analysis of the activities practiced by the financial intermediary. If you have any doubts or questions relating to your status, we would advise you to consult a specialised lawyer, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) or the ARIF secretariat.
The basic idea of the combat against money-laundering in Switzerland is that of self-regulation, which means that the professions have formed themselves into self-regulating organisations in several fields (lawyers-notaries, asset managers, etc.). However, there are three general self-regulating organisations recognized by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA), ARIF, VQF and PolyReg, which every financial intermediary can join regardless of their profession. The other self-regulating bodies either have their origins in organisations such as the Post Office and the CFF [Swiss railways], or they are linked to professional associations that only accept their own members. In any case, you can also file a request for authorisation directly with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
Every financial intermediary must appoint at least one ‘LBA manager’. He will be the contact between ARIF and the authorities, must be appointed from among your executives or personnel and will have the following responsibilities (for further details, please refer to ARIF’s Directive 7):
Implementing the MLA :
The MLA manager must draw up internal directives and make sure that everybody who takes part in financial intermediary activities applies them correctly and meticulously. He must also take whatever measures are necessary when entering into a business relationship and on discovering any grounds for suspicion.
Organising training and information :
The MLA manager must advise company employees on questions relating to money laundering, organise their basic and continuing training and ensure their participation in the prescribed training seminars (Directive 11). The MLA manager should himself possess a high level of training in MLA matters.
Formal checks on financial intermediaries are carried out as follows:
– annually by an approved MLA auditor who passes his auditor’s report to ARIF;
selectively by ARIF, which can give this task to one or more members of its committee or to a third party.
This is the certification of the copy’s conformity of a document with the original must be made by an official authority, a notary, or a Swiss or foreign financial intermediary subject to supervision equivalent to that of the MLA. The copy can also be certified as true by the ARIF secretariat (no charge) on presentation of the original document.
Please provide us with a signed and dated certification explaining the unavailability.
In certain exceptional cases, ARIF will accept an equivalent document, on the basis of a written request giving reasons. Examples for diplomas: a confirmation of enrolment at the bar from the public prosecutor, a certificate from the establishment which issued the diploma, a certificate from a professional association that only accepts holders of a specific diploma, etc.
Before approving an application for affiliation, ARIF can appoint several persons, normally chosen from members of its committee, to carry out an investigation in order to draw up an analysis of the activity and internal organisation of the financial intermediary that has lodged the membership request. This check is carried out at the candidate’s expense.
According to the Directive 11 relating to training, the following persons are required to attend training courses:
members of the board of directors;
members of partnerships or of limited liability companies;
members of the management with general authority;
the MLA manager;
employees who are involved in business relations that are subject to the MLA.
Within 6 months of affiliation to ARIF or, for new employees, within 6 months of their engagement: 1 day of basic training. During each reference period following the period of their basic training the persons subject to training must attend half a day of continued training. The reference year for attendance of continued training courses runs from the 1st of July of each odd year to the 30th of June of the following odd year.
Any natural person or corporate entity acting or susceptible to act as a financial intermediary within the meaning of Article 2(3) of the LBA may apply for ARIF membership.
Please fill in the application form fully and attach all the documents requested.
The MLA Register is a summary list of all business relationships subject to the MLA.
This list may be set up on paper or on a reliable and durable data carrier. It must be possible to consult it directly without referring to the files. It must be completed immediately any time when a business relationship is being established with a new contracting party, then regularly updated, whereby its history has to be preserved.
For any business relationship, the Register must contain all data on the contracting party’s and the beneficial owner’s identity. It furthermore comprises a section updated by the MLA Officer, including in particular the state of the identity verifications, the clarifications concerning transactions, the measures of increased vigilance, the possible judicial or administrative proceedings, as well as the various checks carried out.
The MLA Register must be stored in Switzerland, preferably on the firm’s premises, or at another safe and quickly accessible place, in order to allow its simple consultation by the criminal prosecution and MLA supervision authorities as well as by ARIF’s Special Auditors and the financial intermediary’s MLA Auditor.
If for any reason the MLA Register is temporarily incomplete, the member has to indicate it in his Declaration of Conformity for the audit period (DT 17). The Auditor must also point it out in his MLA audit report (DT 18).