Sunday , 21 July 2024
Home Global Economy Banking secrecy before freedom of the press
Global Economy

Banking secrecy before freedom of the press

The "Suisse Secrets" revelations about suspected criminal customers of the Swiss bank "Credit Suisse" are also making headlines in Switzerland. The Swiss journalists are even more concerned that they weren't part of this international research. And not because they weren't asked – but because it was simply too risky. "It's a shame that only foreign colleagues have to do this for us," comments the Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger.

Lawyer advises journalists to keep their feet still

The reason for this is Article 47 of the Swiss Banking Act. Anyone who violates banking secrecy is liable to prosecution in Switzerland, and for several years this has also applied to the media that refer to leaked bank data, explains Alex Geissbühler, lawyer and financial market expert in Zurich: "Exciting is that this part, that a third party who, for example, receives information from a banker and passes it on, is punished. That only came into the banking secrecy article in 2014." As a lawyer, he does not advise any journalist in Switzerland to violate this. "This article is like that," says Geissbühler.

The Zurich "Tagesanzeiger", a newspaper of the Tamedia group, called it a "muzzle article", which is why – unlike in previous international investigations – it was not able to take part in the "Suisse Secrets" revelations. The organization "Reporters Without Borders" writes on Twitter of an "unacceptable threat to freedom of information" in Switzerland.

"It's probably a late awakening, because I think most people weren't even aware that there was an article in the Banking Act that had an impact on journalism and media freedom," says Manuel Puppis, a media scientist at the University of Fribourg. But the problem is not new.

Lawsuits are intended to prevent research

"We also know very often lawsuits against the media that uncover corruption, money laundering or tax offenses," says Puppis. A medium specializing in these topics in French-speaking Switzerland, "Gotham City", is covered with so-called SLAPPs: "Ultimately abusive lawsuits that obtain super-provisional injunctions so that research cannot be published," explains Puppis.

It is very difficult for small media in particular to take action against this, "because it involves high costs and at the end of such a procedure, even if you get it right and are then allowed to publish it, you ultimately have to bear these high costs." It is a big general problem how the media can report on the economy.

Parliament restricted the freedom of the press de facto

A good seven years ago, an overwhelming majority in the Swiss parliament voted to tighten up the banking law, which actually looks like it's from an upside-down world.

Samira Marti is a member of parliament for the Social Democratic Party in the Swiss National Council: "The situation we have today is absurd." In the area of the Swiss financial center, the following applies: "Anyone who wants to uncover criminals becomes a criminal themselves," says Marti.

Social Democrats want to change the law

She and her party now want to push through a revision of the banking law in the Swiss parliament in terms of media freedom. It won't be easy, she says, because the business and banking lobby's attempts to intimidate don't just affect the media.

"But what we experience, even as politicians, is of course that large financial institutions such as CS or UBS have a huge staff of legal and legal support and can therefore also intimidate," says Marti. And not only journalists, but also bank employees and politicians. "That seems to me to be the main problem with Article 47: that it systematically intimidates people who want to do investigative research."

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Global Economy

Spotlight on 2023: S&P 500 and the Significance of the 4400 Level

In our past exploration of the financial landscape of 2023, we delved...

Global Economy

AI and Data Analytics Drive Efficiency in Money Laundering Detection

BIS Innovation Hub Turns to Tech for Money Laundering Detection The BIS...

Global Economy

Russell 2000 Gains Momentum as Tech Stocks Outperform Value

Tech stocks have dominated the equity markets in recent months, surpassing value...

Global Economy

Crypto Exchange Bybit Announces Exit from Canadian Market Amid Regulatory Changes

Regulatory Shifts Prompt Bybit's Strategic Withdrawal from Canadian Crypto Market