Money laundering - what does it mean?

The forbidden fruits may not be enjoyed

The regulations on money laundering are intended to make it impossible for illegal funds to return to the legal money cycle. All those who assist in this process are to be punished:

“Whoever performs an act likely to frustrate the tracing, tracing or confiscation of assets which he knows or must assume to derive from a felony shall be punished by imprisonment or a fine.”

This is what the penal code says (article 305bis). For consumers there are no problems here. But anyone who traffics in hash or weed sooner or later faces the problem that the illegal cash, which often consists of small notes, must be inconspicuously channeled back into the normal cash cycle.

When is an act money laundering?

A deposit into a personal account, as the Federal Supreme Court recognized, is not normally considered money laundering, since the funds can still be found and confiscated. But anyone who changes smaller notes into larger ones is guilty of money laundering. The only decisive factor is that the money originates from an illegal act - the amount does not matter.

So if a kiosk employee sells someone a pack of cigarettes and knows that the eight francs comes from a criminal act, she is guilty of money laundering.

Also, a lawyer who defends a suspect and accepts money that she must assume comes from a felony, could thus be charged with money laundering.

But so far, hardly any such petty cases as the one with the kiosk woman or cases of defense attorneys being charged have come to light. They could be. The future will show how far the law enforcement agencies want to go here.

Lawyers don't want to put their careers on the line

In any case, some lawyers are not ready to defend people who most likely made their money only thanks to illegal business, even if it is only cannabis sales. Their career is more important to them. In practice, however, the money laundering article is not of paramount importance for traffickers. The penalties for the main actions (i.e. the sale of weed or hash) are so high that the money laundering article is no longer relevant.

But the environment of the perpetrator, for example a craftsman who sets up a larger indoor facility, can be criminalized with the help of this provision. A car purchase can of course also be considered money laundering.

In general, every major money transfer would have to be checked, because it can never be ruled out that a product is paid for with illegally obtained funds. At present, however, it is mainly the financial institutions (banks, Postfinance) that are under supervision. They have to identify their customers precisely and report all suspicious money movements to MROS.

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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Legal overview

Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

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