Swiss reject requests to unblock assets

Tunisia and Egypt have yet to provide details of possible criminal wrongdoing by their ousted presidents, required to unblock assets held in Swiss banks.

This content was published on April 18, 2011 minutes and agencies

A Swiss justice ministry spokesman said the requests filed by the respective new governments to launch the complicated process of unfreezing the assets were “insufficient”.

He said a Swiss adviser had been dispatched to Tunisia and Egypt to assist with formulating their requests for assistance.

In diplomatic cables sent to Tunis and Cairo in late March, the government advised  it required evidence of criminal wrongdoing involving the money.

Switzerland froze assets linked to Tunisia's ousted president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and about 40 people in his entourage on January 19, less than a week after Ben Ali was toppled.

Swiss officials estimated Tunisian government officials put about $620 million (SFr 555 million) into Swiss banks.

In February, Switzerland froze assets belonging to Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and his associates. Mubarak’s worth remains a mystery, but claims that he and his sons amassed up to $70 billion helped drive protests that brought him down.

In both cases, the money is locked up for three years.

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