CH-Force/Debt Rescheduling Fraud: Coordinated operation in Switzerland and Germany

Bern, 03.02.2021 - As part of the «CH-Force/Debt Rescheduling Fraud» criminal proceedings being conducted by the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), on 3 February 2021, Swiss and German authorities carried out several searches of business premises and private houses in a coordinated operation in both countries.

The OAG is conducting criminal proceedings on suspicion of fraud (Art. 146 Swiss Criminal Code (SCC)), money laundering (Art. 305bis SCC) and unfair competition (Art. 23 in conjunction with Art. 3 para. 1 lit. b Unfair Competition Act). The suspects in this very complex series of cases are believed since 2015 to have defrauded more than a thousand loan applicants, causing financial losses totalling around CHF 10 million. So far, a major network of around 90 companies has been identified, which is believed to be controlled by one or more international groups of people.
Following the decision of the Federal Criminal Court in BG.2018.41-50 on 25 February 2019, the OAG took over responsibility for the criminal proceedings opened in various cantons in the «CH-Force/Debt Rescheduling Fraud» case.

The highly extensive and elaborate structure of the business model identified demands complex and resource-intensive measures that do not in themselves guarantee the success of the criminal proceedings. Based on the OAG’s experience in similar fraudulent business schemes and the greater ease with which it can access cooperation partners in Switzerland and abroad relevant to the investigations, even cantons with investigation departments that specialise in this field regularly request the OAG to take over responsibility for criminal proceedings in this type of case.

The «debt rescheduling» business model
Based on the criminal proceedings taken over from the cantons, the over 250 criminal complaints received so far and reports of suspicious transactions made by financial intermediaries to the Money Laundering Reporting Office MROS, the OAG was able to identify a «business model» that has been systematically applied. Persons, most of whom were in financial difficulties and seeking to obtain loans, in particular those seeking loans on the Internet, came into contact with brokerage companies that promised to arrange «debt rescheduling» for them. First of all, however, the brokers charged a brokerage fee. After the fee was paid, the loan applicants were normally given the details of a company that was to be responsible for the restructuring the customer’s financial situation. The loan applicants were then instructed by the alleged debt rescheduling companies to make advance security and instalment payments. The suspicion of criminal activities exists because despite the applicants making these advance payments, the alleged debt rescheduling companies did not provide any services. In particular, no loans were disbursed to the loan applicants, contrary to the expectation that they had been given through the apparently fraudulent business practices of the brokerage and debt rescheduling companies.

Houses and offices searched in Switzerland and Germany
At more than 30 locations in various German-speaking cantons and in Southern Germany searches were made of the private houses of suspects and of the premises of the companies involved. The main aim was to secure evidence.
The operation was carried out by the OAG in cooperation with fedpol and various cantonal police forces and coordinated with the authorities in Southern Germany that are conducting criminal proceedings in the same connection.

The OAG wishes to thank its German partner authorities, fedpol and the cantonal police forces involved for their excellent cooperation.

For information on the operation carried out by its German partner authorities, the OAG would refer you to the Munich public prosecutor’s office: pressestelle@sta-m1.bayern.de

As criminal proceedings involve dynamic processes over which the OAG does not have sole influence, it is not possible to predict how matters will progress or what their timescale will be.

The presumption of innocence applies to all parties to the proceedings. The OAG is unable to provide any further information on these criminal proceedings and/or on specific procedural measures at present.


Address for enquiries

Communications Service of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, info@ba.admin.ch


Publisher

Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland
http://www.ba.admin.ch/

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