Swiss magistrate issues arrest warrants for Elf executives

An investigating magistrate in Geneva has issued international arrest warrants against two former executives of the French oil company, Elf. The deal has been linked with the bribery scandal engulfing Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

This content was published on January 26, 2000 - 07:34

An investigating magistrate in Geneva has issued international arrest warrants against two former executives of the French oil company, Elf. The men are wanted for questioning in connection with Elf's acquisition of the former East German, Leuna oil refinery.

The deal has been linked to the bribery scandal engulfing Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Legal sources said Alain Guillon, director of refineries and distribution, and Hubert Le Blanc-Bellevaux, a senior envoy for the nationalised French oil giant when the deal was made in 1992, are accused of embezzlement, forgery and money laundering.

Both men are also wanted by French judges investigating the oil company's role in a number of suspected cases of corruption in France. Mr Guillon, who is thought to be a key witness in the Leuna deal, was arrested in France last month.

It is the first time the Geneva judge, Pascal Perraudin, has targeted executives at Elf's head office in France, and the new warrants indicate that Swiss prosecutors have sufficient evidence to take the case a stage further.

Since the oil giant's new management first alerted the Swiss authorities of their suspicions about the Leuna deal in June 1998, formal charges have been levelled at the head of a Lausanne accountancy firm. The president of Elf's Geneva-based international subsidiary, Alfred Sirven, is also wanted for questioning but he is on a growing list of former company executives now on the run.

By Peter Capella

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