A Geneva judge has frozen funds worth at least $700 million (SFr1.2 billion) in Swiss bank accounts linked to the servicing of Angola's Russian debt.This content was published on February 28, 2002 - 19:29
The move comes after a year-long investigation by local judge Daniel Devaud into deals surrounding the rescheduling of Angola's $5 billion debt to Russia.
The inquiry is examining the activities of two businessmen: suspected arms trafficker Pierre Falcone, who is currently being held by the French authorities, and the Russian millionaire, Arkady Gaydamak.
In 1996, both men acted as middlemen in a deal that reduced the money owed to Russia to $1.5 billion. The Angolan government was to pay the outstanding balance with money from its petrol revenues.
The funds, however, failed to reach their final destination. The Geneva investigation has shown that at least half the money, or $750 million, ended up in accounts belonging to Russian and Angolan dignitaries.
Devaud blocked the remainder, made up of promissory notes, in a Geneva bank before it could be redistributed.
Falcone's Swiss lawyer, Alexander Troller, has denied any wrongdoing on the part of his client. "The information broadcast by the media is pure fantasy," he said. "All I can say is that nobody has been indicted in Switzerland."
swissinfo with agencies
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