Switzerland promises to expedite return of frozen funds

The Swiss authorities have promised to expedite procedures for returning some SF770 million in frozen funds to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, though they warned the transfer might take several years.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian committee responsible for repatriating money from abroad is traveling to Switzerland in a few days to negotiate the return of SF410 million that belonged to ousted President Hosni Mubarak and 18 of his cohorts.

“We are also waiting for the Spanish judiciary to set a date for considering Egypt’s request to extradite fugitive businessman Hussein Salem,” said committee president Assem al-Gohary.

Valentine Zellweger, head of the Swiss Foreign Ministry’s international law department, said the authorities would also expedite the return of SF300 million that belonged to Muammar Gaddafi and SF60 million that belonged to Ben Ali, the former president of Tunis.

Zellweger also said Switzerland had already released SF385 million and put it under under control of the new Libyan government.

He added that one third of the illicit money that Arab and African leaders sent abroad was transferred to Switzerland, amounting to some US$1.5 billion.

The Swiss government has issued severe laws regarding money laundering, and requested some 7000 financial institutions to apply them, especially to known political and military figures.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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