60 ICO Investigations by Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority in 2019

60 ICO Investigations by Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority in 2019

by April 9, 2020

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA publishes its 2019 Annual Report.
“Switzerland needs stable financial institutions particularly in uncertain times for the financial markets.” This pronouncement was made in January by the Chair of FINMA’s Board of Directors Thomas Bauer and FINMA CEO Mark Branson when they wrote the introduction to the 2019 Annual Report. It was not then clear how soon times would become more uncertain than virtually ever before.

In 2019 FINMA focused its risk-oriented supervision particularly on how firms are coping with the risks arising from low or negative interest, specifically in the real estate market. It was also in close contact with the industry with regard to the risks relating to cyber attacks, Brexit and the transition from LIBOR.

Furthermore, FINMA clarified a whole host of technical questions related to business models based on new uses of technology. In addition, ten years after the financial crisis FINMA confirmed that the emergency plans for the systemically relevant functions of the two major Swiss banks are now effective. Finally, FINMA considered how the topics of sustainability and risks posed by climate change are to be dealt with under supervisory law.

FINMA oversees more than 29,200 financial institutions and productsEnforcement: focus on initial coin offerings

In 2019, FINMA conducted 1,185 investigations (2018: 1,086) and 30 enforcement proceedings (2018: 42). Its Enforcement division looked closely at initial coin offerings (ICOs) in Switzerland in 2019. Overall, it carried out investigations into approximately 60 ICOs, of which more than half could be concluded. FINMA identified a breach of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) at more than ten ICOs and brought charges against the responsible people. Eight further cases resulted in entries being made on FINMA’s warning list due to suspected illegal conduct. Enforcement proceedings were ultimately opened against three companies.

Annual financial statements: slightly higher costs due to special effects

FINMA’s operating costs have remained largely stable since 2012. At CHF 123 million, they were CHF 4 million higher in 2019 than in the previous year. This is due to particularly low costs in 2018 resulting from employee pension benefit adjustments. The operating costs were covered by income from supervisory fees and levies. The average number of full-time equivalent positions at the authority was 465 in 2019. This number has hardly changed since 2012.


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