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Swiss freeze bank accounts linked to Milosevic

Switzerland has frozen some 100 bank accounts belonging to allies of the Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic. However, the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, said on Monday that none of the accounts were in the name of the president himself.

Berne has ordered Swiss banks to inform the authorities about accounts belonging to Milosevic or his allies, but Swiss officials had not reported any finds until now.

Villiger was responding in parliament to suggestions that foreign heads of state often use borrowed names to hoard large amounts of money in the country.

The minister said the cabinet would examine the situation following last month's presidential election in Yugoslavia, before deciding whether it should take any further steps.

Last December, a Swiss official said several millions of francs worth of Yugoslav and Serb government assets had been frozen in Switzerland, following the imposition of sanctions earlier in the year.

In June 1999, the Swiss government froze the assets of Milosevic and four other war crimes suspects at the request of the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia.

Last July Berne expanded the list in line with the European Union to cover more than 300 people close to Milosevic and Yugoslav and Serbian-controlled companies.

The court in The Hague had sought legal assistance in its prosecution of the Yugoslav leaders for alleged atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

swissinfo with agencies

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