MROS registers a 40 percent increase in reporting volume

Money Laundering
Press Release, fedpol, 14.05.2012

Berne. The Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) registered a significant increase in the number of incoming suspicious activity reports (SARs) in 2011. MROS received a total of 1,625 SARs, an increase of 40 percent over 2010. The total asset value involved also rose to a record sum of over CHF 3 billion, more than the 2009 and 2010 reporting years together.

The marked increase in both reporting volume and total asset value can be attributed to various factors. MROS received 139 SARs in the wake of political eventsin spring 2011 across several countries, an exceptional circumstance which did not exist in 2010 and which contributed to the marked increase in SARs in 2011. Also, there was a fourfold increase in the number of SARs from the category of money transmitters, due mainly to the clean-up of accounts by one money transmitter and the subsequent reporting retroactively of numerous suspicious transactions. As in previous years, there were also several complex cases that generated multiple SARs on account of the large number of business connections involved. A further reason for the increase in reporting volume is the application of more effective control mechanisms by financial intermediaries.

Two-thirds of SARs from the banking sector
As in the previous reporting period, most SARs in 2011 were submitted by the banking sector (1,080 SARs). This category also submitted the highest number of SARs in connection with the aforementioned politicalevents. The second largest contributor of SARs was the payment services sector, with a share of more than 23 percent of total reporting volume. Two-thirds of these SARs were submitted by the sub-category of money transmitters.

By far the most SARs – nearly one-third – were submitted in connection with suspected fraud as the predicate offence. The number of SARs with suspected bribery, embezzlement or membership of a criminal organisation as predicate offence increased twofold. Most cases involving suspected connections to a criminal organisation concerned the Italian Mafia. There was also a significant increase in SARs relating to suspected drugs offences.

The number of SARs relating to suspected terrorist financing fell from 13 in 2010 to 10 in 2011. The 10 cases involved assets totalling only about CHF 152,000, CHF 144,000 of which were related to one single case. All but one of these 10 SARs were forwarded to the law enforcement authorities.

Total asset value – new record high
In 2011, 1,625 SARs generated a total asset value of more than CHF 3 billion, a new record high. The increase is mainly due to one complex case that generated numerous SARs from various financial intermediaries. A further striking aspect is that just 25 SARs generated a total asset value of over CHF 2.2 billion, including 7 SARs involving a total asset volume of CHF 791 million and related to cases of suspected corruption.

Proportion of forwarded SARs remains high
The proportion of SARs forwarded to the law enforcement authorities in 2011 remained very high, exceeding 90 percent for the first time in 10 years. The proportion of forwarded SARs received from the banking sector was, at 93 percent, even higher. These high levels continue to reflect the good quality of work performed by financial intermediaries. Also, the money transmitters have significantly enhanced the quality of their reports, which is reflected in the much higher proportion of forwarded SARs from this category: from 67 percent in 2010 to 85 percent in 2011.

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