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Case against Swiss ambassador hardens

Friederich (centre) at a official reception in Bern in April for the Grand Duke and Duchess of Luxembourg Keystone Archive

The Federal Prosecutor's Office says it has strengthened its case against the suspended ambassador to Luxembourg, suspected of laundering drug money.

This content was published on August 9, 2002 - 14:47

It has also been revealed that the Swiss authorities are now investigating the wife of Peter Friederich. She is suspected of aiding the ambassador who is alleged to have laundered SFr1.1 million ($730,000) through a Luxembourg bank.

Hansjürg Mark Wiedmer, a spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office, told swissinfo: "There is the question about her role. What did she know about what's been going on?"

However, she has repeatedly told her lawyer that she knew nothing of her husband's dealings.

Wiedmer added that evidence showed that the money was linked to international drug trafficking or the financing and laundering of drug money.

The Prosecutor's Office said the investigation had focused on four cash deposits paid into Friederich's private account at a bank in Luxembourg.

Drug trafficking

The payments were made to Friederich by a Spanish citizen, who is suspected by Spanish police of involvement in the drugs trade and money laundering.

Shortly after being paid into Friederich's account, the money was transferred to bank accounts in Switzerland and other third countries belonging to people suspected of money laundering or linked to drug trafficking.

"We have strong indications that persons were involved that are known to the justice authorities because of involvement in drug trafficking and also in financing of drug trafficking and money laundering," added Wiedmer.

Investigators have ruled out reports that Friederich was the victim of a secret service plot.

Falsifying documents

Friederich was arrested in Bern on July 8 and subsequently suspended after the Luxembourg authorities accused him of money laundering and falsifying documents.

The ambassador has maintained his innocence, claiming the money had been transferred for tax reasons.

The case has now been handed over to the Federal Investigating Magistrate's Office, where it will be handled by a judge, Paul Perraudin, who has tackled a number of high-profile cases.

The most prominent was the bribery affair involving France's former state-run oil company, Elf Acquitaine.

swissinfo with agencies

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