Swiss freeze $1bn after Arab Spring

2012-10-16 18:47

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Geneva - Switzerland has blocked nearly one billion Swiss francs or €800m in assets linked to former autocratic Middle Eastern leaders since the Arab Spring, the Swiss foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The Swiss government has held funds linked to ousted Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali since he left the country in January 2011, and those of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak after his departure from power the same year, said Valentin Zellweger, the head of the foreign ministry's international law department.

Switzerland had blocked some 700 million Swiss francs from Egypt and 60 million from Tunisia, and was currently working with the new administrations in those countries to find a way to return the funds to the Egyptian and Tunisian people, Zellweger told reporters in Geneva.

Following separate United Nations Security Council resolutions, Switzerland had also blocked 100 million Swiss francs from Libya and another 100 million from Syria, Zellweger said.

Asked why the restitution of funds to Tunisia and Egypt was taking so long, he said the onus was on those nations, since "it is them who determine the speed of the procedures".

"Switzerland is confronted in Egypt and Tunisia with cases unprecedented in size," Zellweger said.

In Tunisia's case, Switzerland held the accounts of 48 people close to Ben Ali, while 32 people linked to Mubarak had their holdings frozen in the Egyptian case, he explained, adding that each account had registered between 250 and 2 000 separate transactions.

Takes long

When asked about the relatively modest amount of frozen Tunisian funds, Zellweger said there were two possible explanations:

Either "the Ben Ali clan did not like Switzerland," and had therefore placed its funds elsewhere, or the Swiss measures taken to avoid suspicious funds "worked well, and Swiss banks refused the funds", he said.

Switzerland is the only country that has published the amount of funds it has frozen, Zellweger said.

It remained unclear, he said, how long it would take to return the cash to its countries of origin, where in most cases the money is desperately needed for reconstruction or democratisation efforts in the vacuum left by the departed dictators.

The fastest such procedure ever carried out by Switzerland took five years and came with its restitution of blocked funds linked to Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha after his reign ended with his death in 1998.

While frozen in Switzerland, the funds are managed conservatively, and any interest gains are returned to the country in question, along with the capital.

Read more on:    egypt  |  switzerland  |  tunisia  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
15 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

24 hour sale – Up to 70% off

Its black Friday, save up to 70% on a wide range of awesome products at kalahari.com. Offers valid while stocks last. T&C’s apply. Shop now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.