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Switzerland: Foreign exchange traders

The Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC) estimates that about 150 foreign exchange (forex) traders are registered as financial intermediaries in Switzerland, who have not been subject to regulation under Swiss banking and finance legislation.

(This article appears courtesy of International Financial Law Review, sign up for a free trial on their site)

Thouvenin Rechtsanwälte, Zurich

In particular forex traders managing accounts for more than 20 individual clients did not fall under SFBC supervision in the past, as long as those accounts were not interest-bearing and were only used to execute customer orders.

In recent years, the SFBC has seen a growing number of complaints, especially from smaller investors, regarding transparency, liquidity and risk disclosure, let alone the substantial losses sometimes suffered by these investors.

The SFBC took action in November 2007 by proposing an amendment to Article 3a paragraph 3 section c of the Swiss Banking Ordinance. Forex dealers will be required to apply for a banking status under the Swiss Banking Act of 1934, as amended. At the same time, security dealers and precious metal traders continue to be exempted with their client accounts under said Article 3a paragraph 3 section c. A banking status under the Swiss Banking Act requires a minimum paid-in share capital of Sfr10 million ($9 million) and further equity requirements to appropriately cover credit, operational and other risks. Bank management members in Switzerland must meet certain professional standards.

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