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Swiss public prosecutor attacks German justice authorities

The sale of the oil refinery in Leuna is being investigated by the Geneva public prosecutor

(Keystone Archive)

The Geneva public prosecutor, Bernard Bertossa, has issued a strongly worded attack against German justice authorities for not assisting with an enquiry into the sale of an oil refinery in Eastern Germany.

Bertossa, who is investigating the takeover of the Leuna refinery by France's Elf-Aquitaine, said in an interview with the German magazine, "Der Spiegel", that he was "astonished that the German justice authorities had contributed absolutely nothing towards establishing the truth."

The Geneva prosecutor's office has been looking at Elf's 1992 purchase of the Leuna refinery to see whether any of the alleged bribes paid as a result of the deal were laundered through Switzerland.

Bertossa has accused the German authorities of failing to act on dossiers of evidence which were submitted by Switzerland.

"Back in September 2000 we sent a dossier to the public prosecutor's office in Augsburg," Bertossa said, "but we have as yet received not even a whisper of a reaction...just absolute silence."

Bertossa has previously said the Leuna affair involved payments of about Sfr1 billion ($560 million). Some of the money was apparently channelled through Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

On Friday evening, Bertossa's office in Geneva confirmed that further documents relating to the Leuna affair had been submitted to the federal justice office in Germany.

Bertossa has been taking an interest in Elf for some time. Earlier this month, the prosecutor froze SFr800 million in Swiss banks, thought to have come from bribes channelled from Elf to help another French firm land a Taiwanese warship contract.

swissinfo with agencies

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