Switzerland to speed up return of Ben Ali, Mubarak funds

GENEVA- Switzerland said Wednesday it would expedite the return of funds once held by former leaders Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak to Tunisia and Egypt.
"Switzerland is the seventh financial place in the world. It is the first in terms of restitution of funds stolen by dictators," said the foreign ministry's head of the international public law department Valentin Zellweger, quoted by ATS news agency.

Since the start of the year Bern has frozen 60 million Swiss francs (48.7 million euros) in Tunisian assets, 410 million francs in Egyptian assets and 650 million in Libyan assets. Another 45 million francs are from troubled Syria.
Zellweger told a news conference the assets' value was fluctuating depending on the latest exchange rate.
Bern is seen as more active in freezing suspicious funds than other countries but questions remain.
Switzerland is ready to send financial and legal experts to fast-track procedures, Zellweger added.
"It is not surprising that Egypt has not yet made a request for judicial assistance which would comply with Swiss law," he said, pointing to "very complex investigations".
But he said he was "confident that contacts with Egypt will be made that can lead to a restitution of the funds".
Zellweger said "rapid restitution is a Swiss objective" but that Switzerland also expected Egypt's and Tunisia's ousted leaders to raise objections.

Wednesday, October 12th 2011

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