Swiss start move to return Duvalier funds to Haiti

2011-05-02 11:58

Zurich – Switzerland has started proceedings to return assets of former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, frozen since 1986, to the Haitian government, the finance ministry said today.

If the move is successful, Switzerland will return the forfeited assets, amounting to more than US$6,70 million (about R44,2 million), to one of the world’s poorest states, the ministry said in a statement.

The Swiss government instructed the ministry to start the legal process in the federal administrative court in February after a new law, the so-called “Duvalier law”, came into force.

The legislation was designed to open the way for the return of the funds, frozen in Swiss bank accounts during years of legal argument and efforts by Duvalier to reclaim them.

In January, Duvalier unexpectedly returned to Haiti after 25 years of exile in France, saying he wanted to help his compatriots rebuild after the huge earthquake that killed more than 300 000 people a year before.

He is under investigation on charges of corruption and crimes against humanity for killings and torture during his 15-year rule.

Duvalier is alleged to have embezzled between $300 million and $800 million (about R2bn and R5,1bn respectively) of assets from Haiti during his presidency.

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