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Geneva judge seeks US help in Swiss money laundering probe

Geneva judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, says the files handed over are not enough. Keystone / Edi Engeler

The Geneva judge investigating possible Swiss involvement in the alleged laundering of International Monetary Fund loans to Russia is to travel to the United States on Tuesday to request legal assistance.

Laurent Kasper-Ansermet intends to seek US cooperation in his probe into possible Swiss links to a massive Russian money laundering case, involving the Bank of New York.

The investigation centres on some $7 billion of Russian money, including $4.8 billion in IMF funds, which passed through that bank.

Some of this money is alleged to have been sent to Switzerland, via a German subsidiary of the Russian central bank, before being deposited in Sydney and London. Kasper-Ansermet has frozen just under $20 million at a dozen Swiss banks as part of his probe into the affair.

His visit comes after he travelled to the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino to personally supervise the investigation there. On Monday, he said he had ordered the raiding of two banks in Ticino, as part of the probe.

Kasper-Ansermet will have meetings at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he also met officials in February, before flying on to Washington.

However, he declined to say whether he would have talks with IMF officials. They have so far rejected accusations that their money was misused.

In February, a former Bank of New York official, Lucy Edwards, and her husband admitted to United States federal investigators that they helped the Russian mafia to launder $7 billion.

However, despite progress in the US, Kasper-Ansermet said repeated Swiss requests to US investigators to hand over documents went unanswered.

He said: “US investigators have not cooperated with us on this case so far. But now our investigation is widening and their cooperation is really necessary. That’s why I’m going to the United States”.

His requests date back to the end of January. He is also still waiting for a reply from the authorities in Moscow sent to them at the beginning of June.

Last month, Kasper-Ansermet ordered police to search and seize documents at a number of important Ticino banks. However, he would not say what exactly he found.

swissinfo with agencies

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