Africa

Switzerland: Govt Freezes $1bn Worth of Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali Assets

The Swiss government has ordered banks and other financial institutions to freeze possible assets belonging to the three men and their key supporters to prevent the funds from being secretly withdrawn.

By Staff writer

Tunis, Tunisia: The Swiss Government says it has identified and frozen potential assets nearly $1bn worth linked to Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and the ousted presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

Speaking in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, Swiss Foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, said some 830m Swiss francs ($960m) had been discovered which include assets worth 360m Swiss francs (SFr) that may belong to Col Gaddafi or his entourage. On the list, was 60m SFr was tied to former Tunisian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his associates. The largest proportion – 410m SFr – was linked to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his circle.

The Swiss government has ordered banks and other financial institutions to freeze possible assets belonging to the three men and their key supporters to prevent the funds from being secretly withdrawn. The Swiss government has said Tunisia and Egypt have already started legal proceedings to claim the assets.

Initially, the government ordered freezing of assets linked the Ben Ali and 40 people in his entourage on 19 January together with Mubarak and his associates On 11 February after they were toppled in popular uprisings.

The Swiss government sent diplomatic cables to Tunisia and Egypt in late March explaining they must submit evidence so authorities can decide if the offences are punishable in Switzerland. In both cases, the money will remain locked away for three years while the two countries satisfy Swiss legal requirements.

At the beginning of the year, Switzerland also froze funds tied to Laurent Gbabgo, the former president of Ivory Coast who refused to cede power and finally was captured.

Switzerland is trying hard to shed its reputation as a favoured location for dictators’ money because of its banking secrecy rules, and has established an investigative unit to help track down hidden funds.

The three-year freeze on assets is meant to give nations time to draft possible criminal cases against former leaders ,said Calmy-Rey.

“Switzerland is willing to help make those cases because it wants to avoid being used to hide funds illegally. A new law affecting the seizure of assets went into effect on 1 February that makes it easier for the Swiss government to freeze and seize the money,” she added.

Published in Exclusive Partnership with Newsfromafrica.org

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