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Swiss block SFr250 million linked to Elf bribery case

The Chengteh is one of six french-made frigates purchased by Taiwan as part of its navy upgrade Keystone Archive

Swiss prosecutors have frozen a number bank accounts held with the Credit Suisse Group, which allegedly contain SFr250 million ($141 million) in suspected bribes linked to a major French corruption scandal.

According to the German-language newspaper, the “SonntagsZeitung”, the former state-owned French oil group, Elf Aquitaine, paid the money during the SFr6 billion sale of six frigates to Taiwan in the early 1990s.

French investigators are currently investigating allegations that Elf provided millions of dollars in bribes to help French firms win the lucrative contract.

“This money is linked to the Elf case,” Zurich state prosecutor Dave Zollinger told the newspaper. “Based on reports filed by two banks, we have frozen funds linked to the sale of frigates and opened a money laundering investigation.”

Zollinger, who refused to confirm which banks were involved, said the accounts belonged to a Taiwanese businessman.

Zollinger said he would be passing on full details of the case to the Geneva judge, Paul Perraudin, who has been investigating Swiss links to the Elf affair since 1997.

Last month the former French foreign minister, Roland Dumas, was sentenced to six months in prison by a Paris court, in a corruption case involving Elf.

The trial exposed a web of corruption at Elf, which French prosecutors said was used to channel money in numerous kickback schemes.

Elf is no longer a state run company. It now forms part of the TotalFinaElf petroleum empire.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR