The Wall Street Journal’s February 4, 2010 article "Switzerland Freezes Freed Duvalier Assets", is about alleged illicit assets blocked in Switzerland. The blocked assets have been maintained in Swiss bank accounts and are believed to originate from Haiti’s public coffers. These public coffers were reportedly looted by former politically exposed person Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who fled Haiti in 1986.

The Wall Street Journal article claims that foreign dictators no longer favor hiding assets at Swiss banks because of "tough" Swiss laws requiring banks to know the source of funds. The Swiss laws the article seems to refer to are commonly called "customer identification" or "know your customer" rules. Rules requiring banks to identify their customers have been adopted across the globe and are in effect in the United States, the United Kingdom, etc.

Swiss banks specifically follow customer identification rules by requiring their customers to execute a "declaration of beneficial ownership" which is also known as a "Form A". Swiss banks also routinely monitor customer accounts, consistent with international anti-money laundering standards. A former Yale Law School visiting scholar discusses the use of "Form A’s" and shares some of his views on Swiss banking, at "Customer Identification At UBS AG And Some Other Banks".

Copyright 2010 Fred L. Abrams