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New law mooted on freezing assets

The Swiss government said on Thursday that is looking into a new law to make it easier to block the assets of foreign dictators and their entourages.

The foreign ministry is to draw up the formal basis for a law affecting so-called politically exposed persons (PEPs) and to define the criteria and method of its application.

The request for such a law came from  Social Democrat parliamentarian Susanne Leutenegger Oberholzer. In her motion she said that the law was needed “in order to guarantee the legal security that financial institutions need to be able to count on”.

At the moment the government can only use emergency powers granted to it by the constitution to freeze the assets of PEPs.

This year the government has already frozen the assets in Switzerland of former Tunisian leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, both of whom were overthrown in popular uprisings. It has also blocked assets belonging to the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, members of his family and supporters.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR