ZURICH- Swiss authorities are reviewing information submitted by banks about potentially suspicious transactions linked to Saudi accounts but have not frozen funds or launched criminal investigations, federal prosecutors said on Monday.
They were responding to a report by the Financial Times that cited unnamed sources saying banks had begun reporting suspicious account activity among some Saudi clients amid a corruption crackdown in the oil-rich kingdom.
The report highlights Swiss private banks' sensitivity to their handling of vast wealth for clients from Saudi Arabia, an important market for them.
"Information coming in is being reviewed, as is standard practice. At this stage assets have not been frozen nor criminal investigations opened in this regard," a spokeswoman for the Office of the Attorney General said in an emailed statement.
She said the information included data that banks had submitted to the national money-laundering reporting centre as part of their standard due diligence obligations.
Separately, the Federal Office for Justice said Saudi Arabia had not asked it for legal assistance in investigating 19 leading figures linked to the corruption allegations.
Dozens of royal family members, high-ranking officials and senior businessmen were rounded up last month in a crackdown on graft that has strengthened the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Swiss scrutiny of Saudi accounts comes as parliament reviews whether to approve the automatic exchange of banking data with Saudi Arabia, one of 41 additional countries supposed to start receiving such information from Switzerland from 2019.
The lower house of parliament in September narrowly opposed sharing data with the Saudis, the only country other than New Zealand among the 41 that did not win approval. The upper house is due to consider the Saudi matter this week.
(Reporting by Angelika Gruber and Brenna Hughes Michael Shields; editing by Mark Heinrich) ((Michael.Shields@thomsonreuters.com; +41 58 306 7461; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))