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Switzerland is perceived as one of the least corrupt countries in the world based on international rankings. According to the “Corruption Perception Index” of Transparency International, Switzerland has regularly been rated among the top eight least corrupt countries since 2009. Even before then, since 1995 in fact, Switzerland has consistently received good rankings on integrity. However, recent corruption allegations in the world of football, particularly the cases involving the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022, have led to international scrutiny of the effectiveness of Switzerland’s anti-money laundering and anti-corruption regimes. This issue is particularly significant for Switzerland, which is home to numerous non-profit organizations and, importantly, many international sports organizations. Approximately sixty sports organizations are headquartered in Switzerland, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the International Ski Federation (FIS), and FIFA.

For example, U.S. Attorney Robert Capers, whose office charged the FIFA case in 2015, repeatedly noted that the United States was determined to fight corruption in the world of sports within and beyond its national borders “to make room for a new era of integrity and reform.” Capers emphasized late that year, as he announced that additional FIFA officials had been indicted, that the “work is not done. While our investigation continues at home, we also look forward to continuing our collaboration with our international partners, including in particular the Swiss authorities, because there is so much yet to be done.”

Given these statements and others in the press, one might assume that Swiss law does not contain sufficient anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws when compared to other countries, instead serving as a safe harbor for corruption in the sports sector. I argue in this paper that this assumption is wrong, or at least premature. An examination of the development of Swiss anti-corruption and anti-money laundering standards demonstrates that Switzerland has always been actively engaged in fighting corruption both nationally and internationally. While it cannot be denied that the corruption allegations in connection with the allocation of the FIFA-World Cup 2018 and 2022 revealed certain weaknesses in Swiss law, generally speaking, Switzerland has a comprehensive anti-corruption and anti-money laundering regulatory regime, and recent reforms have further enhanced these laws.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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