Mobutu family set to recover frozen assets

Switzerland says legal proceedings brought by the Democratic Republic of Congo to retrieve frozen assets of the late president Mobutu Sese Seko are being stopped.

This content was published on April 22, 2009 minutes

But a lawyer representing Kinshasa says an appeal will be lodged in the case, which involves about SFr7.7 million ($6.58 million) frozen in Swiss bank accounts since 1997.

At stake has been who will recover the money – the Congolese people or the Mobutu family.

The Swiss authorities have repeatedly extended the freeze over the years expressing willingness to return the assets to the Congolese authorities through the correct legal procedures.

But the Federal Prosecutor's Office said on Tuesday that the statute of limitations had run out. The deadline for returning the money to Mobutu's family is April 30.

The Congolese authorities filed a criminal complaint with the federal authorities in January, citing members of Mobutu's regime and members of his family accused of involvement in a criminal organisation.

Mobutu, who once owned a villa near Lausanne, ruled what was then called Zaire until his overthrow in 1997.

In December 2008, the Swiss government announced it was drafting legislation to make it easier to return money stolen by deposed dictators and deposited in Swiss banks.

swissinfo with agencies

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