Switzerland is to unblock a further $70 million (CHF67 million) of assets frozen in the Petrobras price-fixing scandal and return them to Brazil. The international corruption affair involves the Brazilian oil company, which is semi-owned by the state.
The Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber and his Brazilian counterpart, Rodrigo Janot met in Bern on Thursday and came to an agreement. The money had been frozen while a number of investigations were carried out in Switzerland. Around $800 million in assets were originally frozen. In spring last year, $120 million of frozen assets were released.
The money, which had been stashed in Swiss accounts, was “for the most part ostensibly held by domiciliary companies”, though the beneficiaries were senior executives from Petrobras or its suppliers, other companies (both directly and indirectly) and Brazilian politicians.
A joint investigation team will be assembled to speed up the investigations being carried out in the two countries.
The office of the Attorney General in Switzerland has so far received 340 reports of “suspicious banking relations” from the Money Laundering Reporting Office in relation to the corruption affair, according to a statement released by the office on Thursday.
The Attorney General has opened up 60 criminal cases in response to these reports, focusing on the suspicion of aggravated money laundering and of bribery of foreign public officials. Two of the cases have been taken over by the Brazilian authorities, and Switzerland plans to request that the same course of action be taken for some other open cases.