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Major money-laundering scandal hits Geneva

Three foreign nationals have been charged by the Geneva public prosecutor in a bribery and money-laundering case with ramifications in three continents.

This content was published on August 29, 2011 - 18:40
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Two British nationals and one Pakistani working for the Saudi petrol company Al Rushaid are suspected of accepting millions of dollars from companies to whom they awarded valuable contracts for the supply of equipment.

The case was revealed on Monday by French-language Swiss radio, and confirmed to the Swiss News Agency by the prosecutor’s office. Prosecutor Dario Zanni has already questioned the three men.

The radio named Shandong Petroleum of China as one of the companies involved.

A US company is also suspected, and that case is already being tried in the English courts, the agency said, without naming it.

The money from the suspected bribes was allegedly placed in accounts opened in a private Geneva bank, which the radio did not name. The accounts have now been blocked by the Geneva judicial authorities.

The lawyer for Al Rushaid says the sum in question is more than seven million dollars, but the lawyers of the accused maintain that the source of the money is not illegal. The bank, which has been questioned but not charged, also denies that the money is illegal.

Reports in Gulf newspapers say Al Rushaid has now filed a lawsuit against the bank in the New York State Supreme Court alleging that it aided and abetted the bribery efforts of the employees.

Al Rushaid claims that it lost hundreds of millions of dollars because the equipment bought at inflated prices was often substandard or was not delivered at all, delaying or preventing the completion of contracts.

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