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Switzerland: Law of Offshore

Table of Statutes

This is a non-exhaustive list of some of the main Swiss statutes affecting low-tax status and non-resident business. The statutes are listed in alphabetical order – click on the statute for a fuller description of the statute, the legal regime it forms part of, or in some cases the text of the law.

Banking Law 1934 (as amended) 1999
Federal Act on International Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters 1997
Federal Act on the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority

Law On Investment Funds 1994

Money Laundering Act 1997
Stock Exchange Law

Swiss Civil Code 1907

Switzerland's new 'super regulator,' the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) commenced operations on January 1, 2009.

On that date, the Federal Act on the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, which the Swiss Parliament approved on June 22, 2007, went into full legal force. The effect of the Act is to merge three bodies – the Federal Office of Private Insurance (FOPI), the Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Control Authority – into a single supervisory authority.

Several years in the making, FINMA now acts as an independent supervisory authority overseeing the protection of participants in the Swiss financial markets, namely creditors, investors and insured persons.

The Swiss government designed the new regulator in response to criticism from international bodies of the shortcomings in the country's money laundering laws, and particularly the low number of money laundering reports being received by the MLCA compared with other major financial centres.

Under its director, Dr. Patrick Raaflaub, FINMA employs some 350 staff members, spread over seven areas of activity, including: large banking groups; banks and financial intermediaries; integrated insurance supervision; insurance markets; legal, enforcement and international relations; and services. The strategic management of FINMA is in the hands of its Board of Directors, chaired by Prof. Anne Héritier Lachat . FINMA's costs are financed in full via the fees and supervisory duties levied on the institutions it supervises.

At the time, Dr. Haltiner, the then chairman, commented: “Preparations have involved many months of hard work, but integrated financial market supervision is about to become a reality in Switzerland. I am convinced that FINMA will be a supervisory authority capable of taking on the challenging functions at national and international level that a financial centre like Switzerland entails.”

Raaflaub added: “FINMA will be starting its work in a difficult market environment. Recent months have shown just what supervision is all about, but also highlighted what it can and cannot do. FINMA is not going to make everything ‘different’, nor is it going to make everything ‘better’, but I believe it will give us a sound foundation on which to face new challenges and further develop our approach to supervision. We will be doing everything we can to make our supervision both effective and credible.”



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