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”


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?

The most efficient and shortest way to unfreeze your account consists in showing to the Swiss prosecutor that the source of all of your funds is completely legal and clean. This works if you have a clean record and you never were involved in any criminal activity. You have to be 100% sure. Therefore, it is crucial to collect evidence to prove that the source of funds is legal. For each transaction we need old agreements, old invoices, old correspondence and other suitable documents. If we can produce substantial and consistent documents, we can unfreeze your bank account within a couple of weeks.

How Switzerland handles political dirty requests?

The Swiss authorities are fully aware about the political dirty games in some specific and known countries. In case of abuse behind the request for international legal assistance and we are in a position to produce some documentary evidence on the legitimate source of your funds, we can convince the Swiss authorities to unfreeze your assets within weeks. Swiss banks collected a huge experience with politically exposed persons over the last decades. They now exactly the fabricated criminal scenarios to harm a political exposed person having a bank account in Switzerland with such a request for international legal assistance.

Bank Account Frozen due to unusual bank transactions?

Beside the request for international legal assistance there are other reasons for a frozen bank account. If you execute unusual transactions with your account, your transactions are popping up with the bank’s internal IT system. Each single bank has different criteria to define a transaction with increased money laundering risks. One of the most used criteria is the CHF 100’000 barrier for payments.

The compliance officer receives a list on the table with unusual transactions on a daily basis. Unusual transactions can be, for example, 4 payments amounting slightly below the counter-value of CHF 100’000, for example CHF 99’000. With a transaction below CHF 100’000 you can avoid showing agreements and invoices. If you accumulate such transactions the IT system triggers an alert signal. The compliance officer will immediately freeze your bank account.

How long does it take to unfreeze a bank account if the compliance officer has frozen the account? 

To unfreeze the account frozen by the compliance officer will not take much time. You have to show the agreement and the invoice tied to the frozen transaction and explain the economic background. The bank has to document the economic background of such a transaction and will ask you to provide appropriate agreements and invoices. My advice: don’t shoot from the hip. You have to be very careful assembling the documents. Each single document you are going to present to the bank should be consistent and real. Otherwise your account can remain frozen for a long time and fabricated agreements and invoices can end in prison. Let me help you presenting the right documents to your bank and you will see that your account will be unfrozen within days.

What is the most common reason for a frozen bank account?

One of the most important reasons for a frozen bank account is the decease of the account holder. It has nothing to do with criminal activities. As soon the bank is aware that the account holder has passed away, the bank will freeze the bank account. The bank account frozen due to the death of the account holder remains frozen until the bank has identified all legal heirs. The bank wants to be on the save side and be 100% sure to distribute the assets to the legitimate heirs and legal successors. In such a situation it depends on the complexity of the family situation and the countries of domicile of the account holder and the domicile of the heirs involved. If the account holder has passed away and the place is known where the legitimate heirs are living, the bank account can be unfrozen within 2 or 3 months.

You think that something is not right with your account?

Every hour counts. Don’t waste time. It’s essential to follow my advice based on my 30 years of professional experience collected inside the banks and fighting against the big banks. You consider visiting your bank alone to unfreeze your bank account? Don’t go alone to your bank. A mistake can cost you a substantial part of your money or you can end in prison. If you don’t want to lose your money and your freedom, call me instantly. Be rich and remain rich. I wish you a wonderful day.

Remark: The client information has been anonymized to protect the identity of our clients.

This letter to the Bank is an official Freezing Order respectively an Un-Freezing Order issued by a Swiss Prosecutor. It’s an official injunction written in one of the official Swiss languages French, Italian and German.

freezing order - freezing injunction letter
un freezing order - un freezing injunction letter

The Freezing Order or the Un-Freezing Order doesn’t exist in English because English is not an official language in Switzerland.

Many clients are showing such Freezing Orders to me asking why the language is not English.
The official communication with the Swiss Authorities has to be done in:

  • French
  • Italian
  • German

Therefore, it’s essential to hire a lawyer being familiar with French, Italian and German, the official Swiss languages. To be successful to have your money back fast, it’s important to engage a local lawyer being well connected and familiar with the local authorities.