How long can a bank account be frozen?

Many of my clients often ask me the questions on how long does it take to unfreeze a bank account?

The clients contact me straight after being informed by the bank that the account is frozen and show me the bank letter. This letter is an official freezing order signed by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor and addressed to the bank. In fact the accounts are officially blocked. Furthermore, the prosecutor requests the client to provide the account documents, including the history of all transactions. The documents must be submitted within 30 days.

The client is very disappointed. The client just talked to the bank manager and the client does not understand why the bank did not inform him about the problems with the account. My client can’t believe that the bank is not protecting him. But you have to understand one thing- bank only follows the order received from the Swiss prosecutor. In the situation with account blocking by an authorities mandate, the bank will never take your side. No bank wants to lose its license.
It is a very standard case and the account could be already frozen for several months and the client is not aware of the situation.

As a fist and immediate step, the client wants me to run with him to the bank and to unfreeze the assets on the same day. But you need to understand this is not the right approach. This is a mistake that most of the clients intend to do. You must be careful and not to rush into more troubles.

„After this video you will know how long can a bank account be frozen. This video shows you the most efficient strategy step by step. It shows how to unfreeze your money within the shortest period of time.“

Very often the Swiss prosecutor demands that the Swiss bank under no circumstances informs its client about the situation around the frozen assets. The first step is to contact the prosecutor and to find out the reason why the account is frozen. Most frequently, frozen assets are connected to pending investigations in the country of domicile of the client. The most frequent investigations are in connection with:

  • Corruption
  • Fraudulent Activities

  • Bribe

  • Money Laundering

  • Acquisition of Influence

  • Tax Evasion

  • Tax Fraud

  • Carousel Fraud

  • VAT Fraud

  • Market Manipulation

  • Pump & Dump

  • Front Running

  • Scalping

  • Traffic with illegal Substances

In order to have a documented evidence, the criminal authorities (in the domicile country of a suspected person) collect all information on the bank account and transactions. Therefore, the authorities file an official request addressed to the competent Swiss authorities for international administrative and legal assistance. Further, the Swiss authorities demand the bank for the documents of suspected person.

In this case we have to act immediately. We can override and completely abolish the transfer of sensitive information from the Swiss authorities out of Switzerland’s territory. In order to defend our client, we use a wide range of legal instruments and strategies.  We fight for your money.

Foreign prosecutors all over the world are fully aware that 30% of privately owned financial assets are managed by Swiss banks in Switzerland. Therefore, the number of cases is impressive and increasing year after year. According to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice in the year 2015 we had 2397 cases of requests for the international legal assistance. Years of experience have demonstrated that foreign requests for international legal assistance in criminal matters are often of a political nature and misused and abused by the foreign countries. The Swiss authorities are often refusing such requests. They know exactly that such requests are be used to fight political battles in the foreign country. For example, fabricated corruption scenarios are used to destroy the reputation of a politically exposed person.

Short summary based on my professional experience on how long can a bank account be frozen:

The duration of the freezing period depends on:

If we have a frozen account due to a bank internal freezing order without an intervention of the prosecutor, we can be successful in a very short period of time. As soon we have provided the bank with appropriate documentation showing that the funds have a legitimate history, the bank will defreeze the account immediately.

If we have a frozen account based on a criminal investigation in the country of domicile of the client, it can takes years until the account will be operative again.

If the prosecutor has ordered the bank to not inform the client about the criminal investigation and the frozen account, this is a signal that the bank account has been misused for serious criminal activities as listed subsequently.

“According to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice in the year 2015 we had 2397 cases of requests for international legal assistance”

Frozen-Bank-Account-Infographic

How can we stop the request for international legal assistance?

Meeting about the new Flat Tax System in ItalyAccording to Swiss law we can stop such requests as a rule if the country of the client requesting international legal assistance does not grant any reciprocity rights to Switzerland. If your country does not offer legal assistance to Switzerland, Switzerland will also not offer legal assistance.

The criminal activity must be considered and qualified as illegal and punishable in both countries. It means that the bank documents are not going to be disclosed if the requirement of “Dual Criminality” is not accomplished. If a criminal activity falls under the statute of limitations in Switzerland but not in your home country, the request will be refused.

Foreign authorities must describe the criminal activities with the relevant facts in a plausible and consistent manner. In practice, this prerequisite is often not existent. In such a situation we will argue the foreign country is undertaking an impermissible Fishing Expedition.

It really depends from case to case, what are the winning arguments preventing the Swiss authorities to disclose the sensitive bank information. If the Swiss Federal Prosecutor decides with a formal decision that the bank documents are disclosed to the foreign authorities, this decision can be contested with the Swiss Federal Administrative Court and subsequently with the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

As you can see, until we have the final decision, it can take years with legal procedures. At least, we can win time. Winning time means that your lawyers in the country of your domicile can work to solve your case at home without the burden of Swiss bank account documents. The authorities have no strong evidence. Due to my time winning strategies your lawyers in your home country can close a much better deal with the authorities, if they have no bank documents as evidence against you. As you can see, we have a big arsenal of weapons and strategies to defend your interests.

How long does it take to unfreeze a bank account if you are 100% sure that your money is clean?