Swiss investigate Syrians, Libyans over money-laundering

Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor, said Swiss authorities had received reports from the money laundering agency in connection with Libya and Syria, but could not give concrete details.

Swiss investigate Syrians, Libyans over money-laundering

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Swiss state prosecutor said on Sunday it had opened criminal proceedings against Syrian and Libyan citizens on suspicion of money laundering.

Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor, said Swiss authorities had received reports from the money laundering agency in connection with Libya and Syria, but could not give concrete details.

Keen to step up efforts to shake off its image as a haven for ill-gotten funds, Switzerland has enacted strict laws in recent years on money-laundering.

In the case of Syria, the investigation concerns assets presumed to belong to those close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deposited in banks in western Switzerland, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

It was unclear who and what sum of money was being investigated, nor whether accounts had been frozen, it said.

Questionable 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.

Switzerland has frozen 50 million Swiss francs ($53 million) of funds belonging to Assad and other top officials. Last year, Swiss prosecutors froze roughly 3 million euros held in a Geneva bank by Hafez Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad, on grounds of suspected money-laundering.

The money was unfrozen after Makhlouf appealed, saying it predated sanctions imposed by the Swiss last May over the Syrian government's crackdown on the uprising against the president.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Mayıs 2012, 16:11

Muhammed Öylek

YORUM EKLE