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Switzerland gives Argentina legal help in IBM case

Switzerland is continuing its legal help to Argentina as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery levelled against the computer giant IBM. Around SFr2.5 million, believed to relate to the case, have been located in Swiss bank accounts.

The Swiss justice ministry on Friday handed over a set of documents, gathered in Geneva, that it is believed will help identify the recipients of payments made by IBM's Argentine branch.

Buenos Aires has accused the branch of the American multinational of paying sweeteners to employees of the National Bank of Argentina to ensure the successful conclusion of an information technology contract worth SFr623 million. Twenty people are suspected of involvement.

Argentina first turned to the Swiss for help in the case in 1995, and just over SFr8 million were blocked in two Geneva banks as a result. The money was returned to Argentina in 1999.

Switzerland also provided banking documents, which enabled the Argentine authorities to trace almost SFr2.5 million in suspicious transactions to Swiss accounts.

The information technology contract at the centre of the case was signed in 1994. IBM-Argentina was to computerise the National Bank of Argentina and its 524 branches.

The contract was cancelled in 1996. The directors of both the bank and IBM-Argentina resigned in the wake of the affair.

swissinfo with agencies

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