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Five arrested in Liechtenstein on money laundering charges

Police in the principality of Liechtenstein have arrested five people accused of money laundering. Those detained included the parliamentarian, Gabriel Marxer (pictured), and Rudolf Ritter, the brother of Liechtenstein's vice-president, Michael Ritter.

For the first time in 130 years, an extraordinary session of the principality's parliament decided to lift the immunity of lawyer, Marxer. He is suspected of investment fraud.

Rudolf Ritter, a financial official, was arrested on Thursday night during a police raid. Another man, who is a suspected collaborator, was detained on Saturday morning. They are accused of money laundering, participation in organised crime and embezzlement.

Switzerland will watch these developments closely since Liechtenstein is an important banking centre.

The arrests come in the wake of recently strained relations between Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Earlier this year, the Geneva prosecutor, Bernard Bertossa, criticised the principality for responding
slowly to requests for judicial cooperation, notably in fraud cases.

In February, a high-level delegation from Liechtenstein met Swiss government officials for talks on improving collaboration in the fight against international crime. It followed the foreign minister, Joseph Deiss' visit to Vaduz.

Deiss' meeting with with Liechtenstein's prime minister, Mario Frick, and other officials concentrated largely on proposals for improving judicial cooperation and the fight against money-laundering. The Swiss delegation applauded Liechtenstein's plans to revise key laws before the end of the year.

swissinfo with agencies

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