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Legal cooperation Attorney generals pledge to pursue Angola fund probe

Michael Lauber talking to journalists

Federal Prosecutor Michael Lauber during a news conference earlier this year

(Keystone)

Senior justice ministry officials from Switzerland and Angola have discussed closer cooperation in a major international case of suspected corruption.

The Swiss authorities have blocked around $150 million (CHF150 million) in assets held by the Angolan National Bank and the Angolan sovereign wealth fund amid ongoing criminal proceedings involving an Angolan-Swiss businessman, Jean-Claude Bastos.

In talks with Angola’s attorney-general, Hélder Fernando Pitta Groz on Thursday, Swiss counterpart Michael Lauber stressed the importance of coordinated action between law enforcement authorities in the fight against corruption, according to the Swiss attorney-general’s office.

“There can be greater mutual support when each country has better understanding of the prosecution specific to the other, particularly with regard to the legal principles by which money laundering proceedings are conducted in Switzerland,” a press release said.

Pitta Groz told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper group that he was confident he would have enough evidence in a few weeks’ time to take Bastos to court.

Switzerland has already unfrozen $60 million in Angolan assets that were blocked several years ago.

Bastos, a top manager of the Swiss-based Quantum Global Fund, is suspected of corruption and money laundering and legal cases have been opened both in Angola and Switzerland.

The 50-year old entrepreneur lives in Angola and is banned from leaving the country.

The $5 billion sovereign wealth fund is embroiled in an international dispute with its former boss, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of the former president, Eduardo dos Santos, and Quantum Global.

swissinfo.ch/urs

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