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Swiss financier investigated over money laundering

Basel financier Dieter Behring announced in August that he was selling his empire Keystone

Swiss financier Dieter Behring – who was arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of financial investment fraud – is also being investigated for alleged money laundering.

This content was published on October 20, 2004 - 20:22

The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office said on Sunday that it started the inquiry several weeks ago.

“There is a suspicion of cross-border money laundering,” said the office’s spokesman, Hansjürg Mark Wiedmer, confirming reports that had appeared in Sunday newspapers.

Wiedmer added that several people were believed to be involved, but did not give any further details.

Last week Behring was detained in custody for at least a month on the orders of the authorities in Basel.

He is being investigated on suspicion of financial investment fraud involving several hundred million francs.

Law enforcement officials in cantons Basel City and Zurich as well as the Federal Prosecutor’s Office are carrying out the investigations.

Two members of Behring’s staff who were taken in for questioning have since been released. But a fourth member of staff has been detained in custody.

On Sunday, Basel authorities said another suspect had been detained in connection with the Behring case.

Authorities in Basel City have advised 15 people who were allegedly swindled by Behring to make an official complaint.

Searches

After arresting Behring at his home in Basel, police carried out searches at premises in cantons Basel City, Zurich, Zug and Aargau.

According to reports, investors were attracted by a promise of making big profits thanks to a software programme analysing the stock market that Behring had developed.

They say the investigation will need judicial cooperation with a number of countries.

At the end of August, the 49-year-old financier announced that he was going to sell a string of companies he owned and withdraw from the business world.

In early September, the Federal Banking Commission issued an order withdrawing the banking and securities licence of two companies in his empire - Redsafe Bank and Global Direct Dealing.

Two weeks later Redsafe Bank announced it was withdrawing its application to resume operations as a bank and securities dealer, and called a halt to build-up activities.

It added that the “promising business model” of its subsidiary, Global Direct Dealing would also be discontinued.

Big bill

Behring hit the headlines in Britain last year when he ran up a bill of more than SFr100,000 ($81,830) at a top London restaurant.

The “Sunday Times” newspaper reported that Behring had a passion for fine wine and had made his fortune managing multimillion-franc hedge funds.

These are aggressively managed fund portfolios, taking positions in both safe and speculative opportunities.

They make big bets buying and selling shares in companies and other tradable assets such as bonds, commodities and currencies.

The paper reported that on the night in question, Behring and six other diners had bought food thought have cost no more than SFr1,100.

The remainder was believed to have been spent on expensive bottles of wine. A bottle of 1947 Château Pétrus Pomerol costs more than SFr27,000 at the restaurant, it added.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Swiss financier Dieter Behring, who was arrested on Tuesday, must remain in custody for at least a month.

Authorities in Switzerland are investigating Behring on suspicion of financial investment fraud said to involve hundreds of millions of francs.

He is now also being investigated over alleged money laundering.

In August Behring announced he was selling off his empire and withdrawing from business.

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