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Brother of ex-Mexican president rejects Swiss drug charges

Raul Salinas denies hiding money in Switzerland from drug trafficking

(Keystone Archive)

The jailed brother of a former Mexican president says he is innocent of drug trafficking charges levelled against him by the Geneva authorities. The Swiss investigating judge, Paul Perraudin, had informed Raul Salinas of his indictment on Monday.

"I never had any relation with drug trafficking," said Salinas, speaking to Mexican television on Wednesday. "That falsehood, that fabrication, is what I have to disprove."

Salinas allegedly hid $130 million (SFr226 million) in Swiss bank accounts under false names. The Geneva authorities froze the money in 1998 on the suspicion it came from drug cartels in Mexico and Columbia.

Salinas denied the allegations during the television interview, saying the funds came from Mexican business leaders for investment projects. "All the money deposited in Switzerland has legitimate origins."

Perraudin met with Salinas on Monday in the Mexican Almoloya maximum-security prison. Salinas is serving a 27-year sentence for ordering the 1994 murder of his former brother-in-law, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, who was secretary-general of Mexico's former ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

The party ruled Mexico for 71 years until last December. Salinas' brother, Carlos, ended his presidential term in 1994.

Allegations of drug trafficking have followed the Salinas brothers since then. Because of the allegations and his unpopularity, Carlos left for self-imposed exile in Ireland and Cuba after his brother was arrested.

Raul is believed to have deposited hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign banks during his brother's presidency.

The Swiss deposits were discovered when Raul Salinas' wife, Paulina Castanon, tried to make a withdrawal using fake identification papers. The investigation subsequently turned up additional bank accounts in Mexico, and showed that Salinas had started companies using false identities.

swissinfo with agencies

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