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Switzerland hands back Montesinos' money

Montesinos arriving at court to face charges of corruption Keystone

Switzerland has sent back to Peru $77.5 million (SFr116 million) linked to the former Peruvian spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos.

This content was published on August 20, 2002 - 12:37

The justice ministry said the funds, frozen last November, came from corrupt arms deals.

The justice ministry said it transferred the funds to an account belonging to the Peruvian National Bank at Citibank in New York on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the money consisted largely of the blocked assets of Montesinos and the former Peruvian general, Nicolas de Bari Hermoza, who deposited $21 million in Swiss bank accounts.

The move comes after investigations carried out by the canton of Zurich revealed that $49.5 million of the frozen assets originated from corruption-related crimes.

Arms "commissions"

The statement said Montesinos had received "commissions" on arms deliveries to Peru since 1990, which he stashed away in bank accounts in Luxembourg, the USA and Switzerland.

"We were able to link these funds to transfers from a Russian arms factory and we could then track the money back to the US. From there we found out that this was bribe money that Montesinos had received," Zurich's district attorney, Cornelia Cova, told swissinfo.

The justice ministry also said that Montesinos collected $10 million on the purchase of three MIG 29 planes, bought by the Peruvian airforce from the state-owned Russian arms factory "Rosvoorouzhenie".

In return, the statement said, he used his position to ensure that certain arms dealers were given preference, when these orders were issued.

Blocked money

Another $33 million linked to Montesinos remains blocked in Swiss bank accounts and Peruvian requests for legal assistance aimed at the return of these funds are currently pending in Zurich.

Montesinos, who has been the subject of money laundering investigation in Switzerland since November 2000, is currently in prison in Peru.

He is facing numerous charges and if convicted could face the death penalty.

swissinfo

Key facts

$77.5 million linked to Vladimiro Montesinos has been returned to Peru.
The decision was taken after investigation revealed that $49.5 million originated from corruption-related crimes.
Montesinos has been the subject of a money laundering investigation since November 2000.

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