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Liechtenstein freezes bank accounts in Leuna case

The principality of Liechtenstein has frozen bank accounts in connection with a Swiss investigation into alleged bribery in the privatisation of a German oil refinery. The move follows a request by the justice authorities in Geneva.

This content was published on January 20, 2000 - 18:17

The principality of Liechtenstein has frozen bank accounts in connection with a Swiss investigation into alleged bribery in the privatisation of a German oil refinery. The move follows a request by the justice authorities in Geneva.

The Liechtenstein government says it has blocked several bank accounts and confiscated documents in connection with an inquiry into illegal payments related to sale of the Leuna refinery in eastern Germany in 1992. Norbert Marxer, the head of the government's legal service said the decision was taken with immediate effect. But no further details were made available.

The case centres around the sale of the Leuna refinery in eastern Germany to the French oil company, Elf-Acquitaine. A Geneva-based subsidiary of Elf is believed to have been the main clearing house for bribes paid. Geneva's justice authorities have also asked Germany for legal assistance.

Marxer rejected criticism made on Wednesday by a Swiss investigating magistrate Bernard Bertossa. Bertossa had accused the principality of being reluctant to cooperate with other countries on questions of money-laundering.

Marxer also said Liechtenstein was planning to ease regulations governing legal assistance. He said a bill was being prepared under which requests for legal aid no longer need a formal ruling by a judge in the principality.

The announcements came only days before the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, is due to visit Liechtenstein to address how to improve legal cooperation between the two countries.

From staff and wire reports




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