[QODLink]
Africa
Switzerland says 'illegal assets' found
Official claims millions of dollars linked to Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali frozen following blocking orders.
Last Modified: 02 May 2011 22:27
Mubarak has strenuously denied charges he amassed wealth or stashed away funds in foreign bank accounts [AFP]

Switzerland claims it has found $416 million of potentially illegal assets linked to Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader, and his circle.

Separately, about $473m traced to Hosni Mubarak, the deposed Egyptian president, and $69mn linked to Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the ousted Tunisian president, have also been identified, Lars Knuchel, a Swiss foreign ministry spokesman, said on Monday.

"These amounts are frozen in Switzerland following blocking orders by the Swiss government related to potentially illegal assets in Switzerland," Knuchel said.

He declined to name the banks in which the accounts or properties are held.

Mubarak has strenuously denied amassing wealth or stashing away funds in foreign bank accounts.

Both Tunisia and Egypt - where unrest led to the ousting of their respective leaders - are in touch with Swiss judicial authorities regarding their formal requests for legal assistance to seek return of the funds, according to Knuchel.

No such discussions are under way with authorities in Libya, where Gaddafi is clinging to power in the face of an uprising and NATO air raids.

Switzerland, a neutral nation, had previously announced that it was freezing any assets linked to the three north African leaders, thereby requiring financial and other institutions to report any suspicious funds.

Swiss authorities also froze assets belonging to Ivory Coast's now deposed president, Laurent Gbagbo, in January.

Switzerland has worked hard in recent years to improve its image as a haven for ill-gotten assets.

Its cabinet has previously taken blocked funds in accounts held by deposed leaders including Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Nigeria's late Sani Abacha, buying time for foreign prosecutors to build a case for restitution of funds.

Knuchel said that Switzerland had returned $800m held by Abacha to Nigeria, although it took four to five years to complete legal proceedings.

"It was a good example of restitution," he said.

The Swiss finance ministry said earlier on Monday it had started proceedings to return assets of the former Haitian dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier, frozen since 1986, to the Haitian government.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The conservative UMP party suffers from crippling internal divisions and extreme debt from mismanagement.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human-rights abuses, including murders and rapes.
join our mailing list