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Menem linked to $10 million in Swiss accounts

Switzerland has investigated accounts of former Argentine President Carlos Menem Keystone

A Swiss prosecutor has reported that two bank accounts linked to former Argentine President Carlos Menem contained $10 million (SFr16.6 million).

This content was published on January 22, 2002 - 11:41

The Swiss authorities froze Menem's money when they opened a criminal case into his accounts following requests from judicial authorities in Argentina. They sought help in their probe into suspected illegal arms sales to Croatia and Ecuador in the early 1990s.

A Geneva investigating judge said last October he had blocked the two bank accounts, including one held by Menem's ex-wife Zulema and daughter, but declined to reveal the sums.

"For the moment we have frozen...accounts with a total of $10 million," Geneva's chief prosecutor Bernard Bertossa told reporters.

"The funds in Switzerland are not necessarily the bulk of the money which could have been diverted...we may have to seek assistance from authorities in other countries," he added.

Argentina's Supreme Court in November threw out charges of "illicit association" to smuggle weapons to Croatia and Ecuador against Menem and several ex-aides.

House arrest

Menem, who ruled Argentina from 1989 to 1999, has been under house arrest for five months.

Menem and his aides said they did not know the weapons meant for Panama and Venezuala would be diverted to Croatia, despite a UN arms embargo, and Ecuador, which was at war with Peru.

Bertossa declined to give more details, but said: "We are aware of the importance of this case given the political situation in Argentina today."

Menem, who aspires to a third mandate as president in 2003, has criticised Eduardo Duhalde, Argentina's fifth president in the past month, for ending the policy of pegging the peso to the dollar.

He is Duhalde's chief rival within the Peronist Party, which has dominated Argentina for half a century.

swissinfo with agencies

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