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Investigation into Montesinos accounts widens

Vladimiro Montesinos pictured during his arrest Keystone Archive

Zurich's district attorney, Cornelia Cova, has revealed that more money than previously thought could be held in Swiss bank accounts in connection with the former head of Peru's intelligence service, Vladimiro Montesinos.

This content was published on February 27, 2002 - 07:55

Cova made her statement following a meeting with Peru's public prosecutor, Jimena Cayo, who is in Switzerland asking for judicial assistance as part of Peru's investigations into Montesinos and his former entourage.

Cayo handed over documents which allegedly prove that the Peruvian general, Nicolas de Bari Hermoza, deposited $21 million in Swiss bank accounts.

Cayo said she believes Hermoza's money came from weapons trading and corrupt transactions and as such asked Cova to block his accounts.

Hermoza was a close colleague of Montesinos, who has been the subject of a money laundering investigation in Switzerland since November 2000.

At first $70 million dollars were blocked in Swiss accounts but this has now risen to $115 million.

During her statement Cova also mooted the possibility of repatriating part of the frozen funds to Peru by the end of the year.

Montesinos in prison

Montesinos is currently in prison in Peru, where he is facing numerous charges ranging from money-laundering to organising death squads. If convicted he could face the death penalty.

Montesinos, who was closely linked to the former Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori, fled Peru in 2000 following a corruption scandal.

He was found and arrested in Venezuela and brought back to Peru in June 2001.

Fujimori is also accused of hiding millions of dollars in overseas bank accounts but has denied any involvement in the Montesinos corruption scandal.

Fujimori left Peru soon after Montesinos and took refuge in Japan, where he is in self-imposed exile. Peru has repeatedly called for his extradition, but Fujimori says he will not return until his name is cleared.

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