Parliament backs dictator assets law

A new law on returning illicit dictator funds that are deposited in Swiss banks has been approved by parliament.

This content was published on September 13, 2010 - 18:29 and agencies

The House of Representatives voted by 114 to 49 in favour of a law that aims to stop such assets falling into criminal hands. The Senate previously backed the law in June.

It was felt there was a need to enshrine such procedures in law as a result of the often weak legal system in states requesting the return of assets.

In some cases Switzerland was forced to hand the illicit assets back to dictators' families instead of the state, as was the case in 2009 with funds deposited in Switzerland by former Zairean leader Mobutu Sese Seko.

The new legislation was opposed by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party who said it conflicted with several legal principles.

Under the law the cabinet can block contentious assets and will have up to ten years to launch action to confiscate the assets once they have been blocked.

The confiscation of assets must be declared by the Federal Administrative Court. Any decision to block funds can also be appealed through the court.

Once returned, the funds must be used to improve quality of life for the wider population, strengthen the judicial system and fight against crime. Haiti is expected to be the first state to benefit under the new law. Swiss bank accounts linked to former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier are currently frozen. and agencies

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