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Tunisia running out of time to secure Ben Ali’s Swiss funds

The ousted dictator died last year in exile in Saudi Arabia. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

As the freeze on former Tunisian president Ben Ali’s assets in Switzerland nears expiration, Tunisia must speed up judicial procedures if it wants them back, says the Swiss government. 

This content was published on December 12, 2020 - 10:28
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“At the beginning of 2011, the Federal Council reacted to the Arab Spring uprisings and ordered a preventive freeze on the assets of Mr. Ben Ali and his entourage, amounting to about CHF60 million,” said a government statement on Friday. 

The freeze expires in January 2021 and will then have reached the legal maximum duration of ten years, the government announced. In order for the blocked assets to be returned through “mutual assistance”, final and enforceable judgments must be issued in Tunisia, ordering the confiscation of assets located in Switzerland and showing a link between these assets and a criminal offence. 

Switzerland’s Federal Act on the Freezing and the Restitution of Illicit Assets held by Foreign Politically Exposed Persons  regulates the duration of asset freezes and conditions for their annual extension. An extension is possible if the state concerned has expressed its willingness to cooperate within the framework of mutual legal assistance. 

The expiration of the Tunisian freezing order has no effect on other asset freezes ordered by the judicial authorities in the framework of ongoing criminal and mutual legal assistance proceedings, the government said. 

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