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Swiss say saw record suspect money flows in


* Over 3 billion francs probed in 2011* Suspicious activity reports jump to 1,625ZURICH May 14 Suspicious asset flows identified by Swiss authorities reached a record high of more than 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.21 billion) in 2011, lifted in part by wealthy North Africans who sought to move assets into the country as the Arab Spring raged. Keen to clean up its image as a haven for ill-gotten funds, Switzerland has in recent years enacted strict laws on money-laundering. It has also frozen the assets of deposed leaders including the former rulers and their entourages of Tunisia, Egypt and Ivory Coast. The 2011 total was more than those of the two previous years combined, while suspicious activity reports (SARs) were up by 40 percent, the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) said on Monday."The increase is mainly due to one complex case that generated numerous SARs from various financial intermediaries," MROS, a Swiss federal body, said in a statement. The case involved online investments and a number of businesses related to online gaming, a spokesman said.

"A further striking aspect is that just 25 SARs generated a total asset value of over 2.2 billion Swiss francs, including 7 SARs involving a total asset volume of 791 million francs and related to cases of suspected corruption."There were some 139 reports of suspicious movements in the wake of political events across several countries in early 2011, MROS said, calling this "an exceptional circumstance which did not exist in 2010". A spokesman for MROS confirmed these asset transfers were related to the political turmoil which swept North Africa known as the Arab Spring, which led to the ousting of political leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Of the more than 1,600 suspicious activity reports, or SARs, 1,100 were submitted by the banking sector, long famed for its secrecy but under intense pressure from Swiss and foreign authorities to ensure clients' money is clean. One third of all reports concerned cases of suspected fraud, MROS said, while reports concerning suspected bribery, embezzlement or membership of a criminal body - the latter usually meaning the Italian Mafia - doubled. The proportion of reports ultimately forwarded to law enforcement authorities climbed to more than 90 percent for the first time in 10 years, MROS said. The body did not provide data on the proportion of convictions to reports in previous years.

Swiss banking secrecy has come under renewed pressure in recent years, forcing Switzerland to relax its banking laws in certain areas and pledge to pursue tax evasion as well as outright fraud. Switzerland is currently grappling with a U.S. crackdown on wealthy Americans hiding funds from the Internal Revenue Service after U.S. prosecutors indicted Swiss private bank Wegelin over allegations it had helped hide money. Banks including Credit Suisse and the largest unlisted private bank Pictet have handed over account details to U.S. authorities amid an ongoing tax dispute that almost felled larger rival UBS, which in 2009 paid a $780 million fine to avert prosecution. Switzerland is also seeking to head off European Union pressure to make its banking system more transparent with a series of withholding tax deals and lump-sum payments.

Your money should the tooth fairy just vanish forever


Oct 6 When Claer Barrett, a London-based editor, filed her newspaper column a few weeks ago, it didn't take long for her to realize she had hit a major nerve with its subject matter. A dental nerve. The personal finance editor for the Financial Times had proposed the unthinkable in a recent column: Killing off the tooth fairy. Her logic? In making our kids' first interaction with money a fanciful one, where cash suddenly appears under their pillows from a "magical source," we are doing them a disservice. Predictably, Barrett's email inbox blew up."I had to call for the death of the tooth fairy to make my wider point about personal finance education," Barrett says."Many people were angry with me for denying children the fantasy of believing in the tooth fairy, but I argued that they needed to know about financial reality. The tooth fairy is the just tip of the iceberg."After all, if you introduce young minds to that kind of magical thinking, it can persist for years - in terms of not realizing that money has to be earned, not appreciating the true value of a dollar, and not realizing that their latest must-have iPad or smartphone comes with a huge price tag.

VALUABLE MILK TEETH Indeed, the tooth fairy has become a rather big business. According to the Original tooth fairy Poll by Delta Dental, the average reward for a lost tooth in the U.S. in 2014 was a whopping $4.36 from $3.50 a year ago, up by about 25 percent. On the flip side, some financial experts say it may be an overreaction to make the tooth fairy vanish for good. After all, to a young child, having teeth fall out of your mouth could be a frightening thing, and the promise of a reward might ease the pain."I have no issue with the tooth fairy," says Melissa Brennan, a financial planner in Dallas who gives her children a relatively modest dollar for each fallen tooth.

"Children should be given a variety of experiences with money: Sometimes we receive money because we earn it, but sometimes it is a gift."Overindulgence could be an issue in some families, but Brennan suspects that in those cases, the issue may be deeper than the tooth fairy. Indeed, 3.6 percent of parents - ahem, I mean tooth fairies - leave a whopping $20 or more per tooth, according to a separate survey by credit-card issuer Visa. At those rates, don't be surprised if you find your child trying to speed the process along with a pair of pliers.

MAKE IT A LESSON Those who prefer to keep the fantasy of the tooth fairy alive may wish to turn the event into a teachable moment about the decision of what to do with the money after it magically arrives. Do your kids immediately blow the windfall on candy or iPhone apps? Or are they forward-thinking enough to earmark some cash for things they will need in the future?That is where parents can step in and provide some guidance. You could teach kids about the popular "bucketing" approach to money management. For instance, putting some aside for spending, some for saving, and some for giving to charity in separate jars."Done correctly, the tooth fairy myth is useful in teaching young children about looking through the pain of loss, and being rewarded for going through something unpleasant which leads toward future growth," says Hank Mulvihill, a financial planner in Richardson, Texas. For Claer Barrett, it was a surprise just how much emotion was generated by the idea of saying goodbye to the tooth fairy. It was as if she had just strangled Santa Claus."I have appeared on three national radio stations talking about my fairy death warrant so far," she says. "It encourages me that the message is getting through to parents around the world."