Money laundering prevention

Compliance with and implementation of money laundering provisions

Great emphasis is placed on complying with and implementing money laundering provisions which is a key task for Post-Finance. The provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and the related legislation aim to prevent money laun-dering and terrorist financing in the Swiss financial center. Information about the customer and their transaction behaviour is also of major importance.

  • Switzerland is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has introduced laws and regulations to implement the international anti-money laundering principles of the FATF (and the EU) also for Switzerland’s financial center. These laws aim to detect and prevent money laundering and the potential financing of terrorism.

    PostFinance Ltd has introduced an anti-money laundering programme in line with the requirements of Swiss anti-money laundering legislation, Group directives, and all local laws, formalities and guidelines regarding the prevention of money laundering, the financing of terrorism and financial crime. The anti-money laundering programme consists of written guide-lines and procedures. It also involves appointing an anti-money laundering representative, organizing regular training for the relevant employees and conducting an independent audit in order to check the guidelines and processes in force.

  • Due diligence refers to the careful examination and analysis of a customer, particularly with regard to its economic, legal, tax and financial circumstances. At PostFinance this check covers the following key points in particular: know your customer (KYC), identification, beneficial ownership, details on the authorized signatories and additional necessary customer data. 

  • Know your customer is a compulsory identity check to prevent money laundering. This means that PostFinance as a Swiss financial intermediary knows the nature and purpose of its business relationships, checks the identify of its customers and determines the beneficial ownership of a business relationship – who is the customer and who does the money belong to? Specific clarifications must be carried out, particularly in the event of irregularities, and the plausibility of relevant information must be verified. This is only possible if PostFinance knows its customers and can correlate the required information and assess it in the overall context.

  • As is the case for all other banks, PostFinance has to verify the identity of its customers with a conclusive, official identification document. In doing so, it knows who it is entering into a business relationship with and who the beneficial owner is, that is to say, who the money belongs to.

  • If there is evidence that money belongs to someone other than the account holder, PostFinance is obliged as a bank to clarify and document the ownership.

  • According to the law and the ordinance on the prevention of money laundering, financial institutions are required to obtain plausible information from their customers about their financial and personal relationships. It is up to individual financial institutions to decide how to fulfil this due diligence obligation. Aspects specific to the institution are taken into account, such as high customer frequency and the marketing and sales organization. In this context, PostFinance collects information from its customers about their employer, profession and gross annual income as part of its standard procedure when opening accounts.

  • Under the Anti-Money Laundering Act PostFinance is obliged to regularly check that its customer data is up to date and to update it if necessary. It does so as part of verification procedures where the customer is shown the relevant information and asked to confirm it. As a customer you can simplify the procedure by carrying out the requested steps promptly when contacted.

    • The law obliges the banks to regularly check all customer relationships. Any data identified by the bank as no longer being current must be updated. There are no exceptions for particular customer groups.

      PostFinance has defined a policy for verifying all customer relationships and identifying those which may no longer be up to date. The customers concerned are contacted automatically.

    • The basic customer data such as name and actual residential address (domicile) are updated. Up-to-date confirmation on the beneficial ownership of the incorporated assets is also required. Optionally, information on employer, profession and gross annual income can be updated or requested for private customers, as this data is collected as part of a standard procedure when a new account is opened. As part of our obligation to update customer data, this information is now also requested from customers who already have a business relationship with PostFinance, and who were not asked for this information at the time of opening the business relationship.  A complete customer profile (KYC) allows PostFinance to make a more straightforward assessment in the overall context if there is an anomaly.

      In the case of business customers, data that is also requested when opening an account includes (in addition to the registered office and the purpose of the company) data on the number of employees and, optionally, data on the annual turnover. This is data that is good for the KYC, and it makes it easier to assess anomalies in transaction behaviour in the best way possible in the overall context. In particular, the indication of the number of employees allows PostFinance to assess whether a company is a domiciliary company or not (art. 39 CDB20) Additionally, the persons controlling operationally active legal entities must provide a declaration, or information previously provided to PostFinance must be confirmed. The “form K” used for this purpose was introduced in 2016 (cf. art. 20 ff. CDB20). As part of the updating of customer data, the declaration must now also be made by all customers who opened their banking relationship prior to the introduction of the obligation. Up-to-date confirmation on the beneficial ownership of the incorporated assets is also required.

    • PostFinance would be in violation of the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering Act if it failed to update customer data. This would result in sanctions being imposed by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority. This is a legal/regulatory obligation which means it is mandatory and applies to all banks in the Swiss financial center.

      If PostFinance cannot complete clarifications on a business relationship despite reminders being issued, it cannot fulfil its legal obligations as a bank. As a result, the business relationship must be terminated. This means the obligation to meet the anti-money-laundering provisions takes precedence over the legal universal service obligation.

    • In view of its size and strategic positioning, PostFinance relies on automated, system-supported processes to update customer data. A policy is applied to ensure all customer relationships are checked regularly. Customers, whose data may not be up to date, are automatically contacted to check and confirm the information. Contact is made in writing via e-finance or by post. If the data is up to date, the response is processed fully automatically. Any changes required are carried out manually. If additional or official documents or specific information are required to perform the task, the customers are contacted separately.
    • All information requested to update the customer data is required for the prevention of money laundering. PostFinance only updates relevant information. No information requested is stored for later use. The statutory confidentiality obligations in relation to bank-client confidentiality, postal secrecy and the Federal Act on Data Protection are met. The confidentiality of customer data takes top priority.
    • How the updating of customer data is structured may differ from bank to bank. No standard procedure is defined. In view of PostFinance’s size, its positioning as a retail bank with independent customers and its aim to become a leading digital bank, the updating process is implemented in a system-supported and digital way as far as possible. Other banks rely on personal customer contact in the updating process and check and update the relevant customer data, for example during a visit to the bank or consultation.
  • As is the case for all financial service providers in Switzerland, PostFinance Ltd also has to monitor transactions for unusual activity and be able to trace their financial purpose. By doing so, it helps ensure no illicit or untaxed assets are deposited in the Swiss financial center.

    Sanctioned transactions

    If assets of natural persons, companies or organizations are nationally or internationally sanctioned, the execution of transactions is not permitted. PostFinance is required to block such payments and to determine the identity of the end beneficiary or the sender of the money before the transaction is carried out.

    Limited availability

    It is possible that during clarifications, the assets will only be available to a limited extent. PostFinance relies on prompt cooperation from customers to release assets as quickly as possible.