Bhutto’s jewellery to remain in Switzerland

Benazir Bhutto had always denied charges of corruption and money laundering Keystone

This content was published on November 14, 2014 - 15:32

A claim from an offshore company over confiscated jewellery that belonged to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been rejected by the Swiss Federal Court on Friday.

Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, and her husband Asif Ali Zardari were accused of receiving multi-million dollar kickbacks in exchange for handing out a contract to a Swiss firm during Bhutto’s second term in office from 1993-1996.

The case, opened in 1998, involved the Geneva-based Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), the world’s biggest verification, testing and certification services group.

The money was allegedly deposited in Swiss banks, and accounts belonging to Bhutto and her husband were frozen following an official Pakistani request in 1997. The Geneva authorities launched their own investigation into money laundering a year later.

As part of the criminal proceedings, the investigating magistrate in Geneva had ordered the seizure in June 1998 of jewellery comprising a necklace, bracelet, pair of earrings and ring.

The jewellery, worth CHF177,000 ($183,000), was given to Bhutto by Zardari and was paid for through an offshore company whose beneficial owner was Zardari. The same offshore company has been trying to claim ownership of the jewellery.

In February, the company’s claim was dismissed  by Geneva’s public prosecutor on the grounds that the jewellery was purchased by Zardari and not by the company. It was also rejected by the Geneva cantonal court in July, as the offshore company was unable to prove that the jewellery was purchased in its own name.

Finally, an appeal by the company against the Geneva cantonal court’s decision was dismissed on Friday by the Federal Court.

Asif Ali Zardari served as president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013.


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