Fedpol Annual Report 2012: Focus on organised crime, terrorism and money laundering

Press Release, fedpol, 25.06.2013

Berne. Organised crime, terrorism, money laundering and human trafficking: the focus of the work by the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) in 2012 remained on these areas of crime. In the fight against crime, fedpol concentrated on monitoring terrorism effectively and co-operating with its national and international partners. Also, a new Witness Protection Unit an important tool in criminal prosecution went into operation.

Organised crime is a reality in Switzerland. Italian Mafia organisations use Switzerland to launder money, as an area of retreat, and as a base from where to conduct their criminal activities. Recent analyses have shown that these organisations have also played a significant role for several years in street crime, drug and arms trafficking, robberies, and violent extortion rackets. The association between these activities and Italian Mafia organisations remained undiscovered for a long time because of their secretive methods and their complex structures.

Crime scene Switzerland—jihadism on the Internet

As in previous years, neither Switzerland nor its citizens were a primary target of attack by militant Islamists―jihadis―in 2012. However, Swiss citizens can fall victim to an attack by militant groups in Islamic conflict zones at any time, as the kidnapping of several Swiss citizens in 2012 showed.

People presumed to be jihadis still use Switzerland as a base to provide reinforcements to militant jihadi groups active abroad and to disseminate propaganda. Fedpol has therefore improved its monitoring of online terrorist activity, for example by setting up a technical surveillance device that immediately indicates when a website with terrorist presence is transferred to Switzerland. If such a website is located in Switzerland, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) can open criminal proceedings and, in collaboration with the server operator, seize and delete the criminal content of the website.

MROS to be granted more powers

Prosecuting money laundering and terrorist financing more effectively is at the heart of the latest amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Under the amendments, fedpol’s Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) will be granted additional powers to exchange detailed financial information with its international partners and more authority over financial intermediaries. This will allow MROS to expand its database, thereby enhancing Switzerland’s efficiency and credibility in the fight against money laundering.

The Annual Report 2012 also reveals that Switzerland has not remained unaffected by human trafficking. Criminal groups traffic victims from various countries to and through Switzerland. Fedpol works at various levels to help fight and prosecute this complex form of crime; for example, it co-ordinates and supports criminal proceedings in the cantons, and works at intensifying co-operation and information exchange with its partners in countries particularly affected by human trafficking, as in the case of Romania in 2012.

New Witness Protection Unit

An important instrument in prosecuting the most serious forms of crime is extra-procedural witness protection. Witness protection is particularly challenging when prosecution authorities through lack of other evidence have to rely on witness statements to bring criminals to justice. Police experience shows that potential witnesses are often reluctant, through fear or following the threat of violence, to give incriminating evidence without the assurance of protection. The entry into force on 1 January 2013 of the Federal Act on Extra-Procedural Witness Protection extends protection to witnesses at risk who give evidence in cantonal and federal criminal proceedings both outside the actual proceedings and after conclusion of the trial. A new Witness Protection Unit, which was established at fedpol at the end of 2012, is responsible for the operative implementation of the new legislation.

 

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