Basel Institute on Governance
Knowledge Center



The legal system of the Swiss Confederation (a federal state with 26 cantons) provides for comprehensive mechanisms of international co-operation in criminal matters aimed at recovery of the proceeds of crime. Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters is rendered either on a treaty or a non-treaty basis. Treaty-based mutual legal assistance is governed by the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 20 April 1959 ('EUeR', SR 0.351.1), including Additional Protocols I and II (SR 0.351.12, in effective for Switzerland since 01 February 2005). Moreover, Switzerland has concluded bilateral agreements concerning mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with a number of states.

Non-treaty based mutual legal assistance is rendered in accordance with the Federal Act on International Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (IMAC) of 20 March 1981 ('IRSG', SR 351.1) and Ordinance to IMAC of 24 February 1982 ('IRSV', SR 351.11). This law enables the Swiss competent authorities to seizure and forfeit proceeds of criminal acts of corruption, money laundering and other forms of organized crime.

Switzerland has the legal framework in place that ensures an effective deterrent to profit-motivated crime. The Swiss legislation allows for the domestic criminal investigation to be opened in response to foreign mutual assistance requests. In such a case, the Swiss investigating authorities may institute a separate criminal investigation into laundering of the proceeds of criminal conduct.

The Swiss legislation enables Switzerland to take decisive actions against the abuse of its financial sector and not to provide a refuge for funds of criminal origin. According to figures from the Federal Office of Justice, Switzerland has returned $1.6 billion (SFr1.9 billion) of stolen funds (estimate as per 01 September 2007). Switzerland returned $700 million to Nigeria that was linked to the former President Sani Abacha and returned to the Philippines $684 million stashed in Swiss bank accounts by the former President Ferdinand Marcos.

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Switzerland Profile

Central Authority for MLA: Federal Department of Justice and Police, Section for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters


Work phone

+41 31 322 1120

Work fax

+41 31 322 5380

Postal address

  • Work address

    Federal Department of Justice and Police
    Bundesrain 20
    Switzerland (ch)

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