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Switzerland lays out new 'too big to fail' rules in wake of Credit Suisse banking turmoil last year

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Logos of the Swiss banks Credit Suisse and UBS are seen on two buildings in Zurich, Switzerland, Saturday, March 18, 2023. The Swiss government has announced steps to bolster its “too big to fail” rules aimed to avoid potentially disastrous fallout from banking sector turmoil. The comes in the wake of woes at troubled bank Credit Suisse before it was taken over by rival UBS. (Michael Buholzer/Keystone via AP, File)

GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss government Wednesday announced steps to bolster its “too big to fail” rules aimed at avoiding potentially disastrous fallout from banking sector turmoil after woes last year at Credit Suisse before it was taken over by rival UBS.

Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told reporters that the measures will aim to protect taxpayers — who were briefly on the hook to avoid a major banking sector collapse — and the Swiss economy overall.

She said the steps would also involve “targeted and effective” proposals that help boost liquidity at financial institutions and rein in excessive bonuses enjoyed by some bankers.

The announcement follows a monthslong review by Swiss authorities that “revealed gaps” in the current regulation, and involves a package of 22 measures, a government statement said.

“Implementation of the package should significantly reduce the likelihood that another systematically important bank in Switzerland will experience a severe crisis and that emergency measures by the state will be necessary,” it said.

Among the possible measures could be a move — long-sought by critics who say Swiss banking rules have been too lax — to strengthen the Swiss financial markets regulator FINMA to allow it to levy fines for wrongdoing.

The agency played a key role, along with government officials and bank executives, in striking the UBS megamerger worth 3 billion Swiss francs ($3.48 billion) after Credit Suisse customers rapidly pulled out their money following years of scandals.

Swiss authorities feared last year that the collapse of such a major lending institution as Credit Suisse could further roil global financial markets following the failure of two U.S. banks. The turmoil dented Switzerland's reputation as a key financial center.

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