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Swiss drop investigation into Menem dealings

Carlos Menem is now living in Chile (Norma Domínguez)

Swiss justice officials have suspended an investigation into money laundering allegations against Argentina’s former president, Carlos Menem.

Christine Junod, the Geneva magistrate handling the case, said investigators had found no accounts linked to Menem in a Geneva bank.

She said the Swiss justice ministry had informed the Argentine embassy in Bern that the case had been dropped owing to lack of evidence.

Argentina claims that Menem has $10 million (SFr12 million) on deposit at a bank in Geneva. It says he received the money from the Iranian government.

But Junod said checks carried out at the bank had failed to find evidence of accounts belonging to Menem or his associates.

“The investigation into this aspect of the affair is concluded, unless new evidence emerges,” said Junod.

Separate investigations

Menem is also the subject of two federal probes in Switzerland – one into allegations of illegal arms exports, the other into bribe taking.

Argentina suspects the former president of having accepted bribes from Iran in return for covering up its alleged involvement in a 1994 attack on a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires, which left 86 people dead.

The Argentine authorities also accuse Menem of selling weapons to Ecuador and Croatia during the 1990s when both countries were subject to United Nations embargoes.

Argentina has frequently sought legal assistance from Switzerland as part of its investigations, and in February an Argentine delegation visited the country to request more information.

In 2002, the Swiss authorities froze two bank accounts holding $10 million dollars, which were in the names of Menem’s ex-wife Zulema Yoma and an associate of the former president.

Menem, who ruled Argentina between 1989 and 1999, unsuccessfully ran for president again in 2003. He is currently living in Chile.

swissinfo with agencies

Argentina claims that former president Carlos Menem has $10 million in illegal funds stashed in a Geneva bank.

But Geneva investigators say they have not been able to find accounts related to Menem at the bank in question.

Two years ago the Swiss authorities froze $10 million in accounts belonging to Menem’s ex-wife and an associate.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR