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Switzerland hands over suspected Craxi money to Italy

(AP) -- Switzerland is handing over to Italy SFr2.1 million ($1.37 million) frozen nearly five years ago in an investigation of former Italian Premier Bettino Craxi, federal police said Thursday.

This content was published on July 22, 1999 - 13:02

(AP) -- Switzerland is handing over to Italy SFr2.1 million ($1.37 million) frozen nearly five years ago in an investigation of former Italian Premier Bettino Craxi, federal police said Thursday.

The assets, which include proceeds from the sale of 15 kilograms of gold, are "suspected profits from illegal activities -- corruption and blackmail," the federal police office said in a statement.

Swiss authorities froze accounts in Geneva in October 1994 following an Italian request for legal assistance in a case against Craxi, Giorgio Tradati and Craxi's ex-aide Maurizio Raggio.

Tradati opened and administered the accounts for Craxi, Swiss police authorities said. In addition to the Italian case, the assets were frozen in connection with a money-laundering investigation in Geneva.

The Geneva investigating judge in charge of the case ordered the handover in June "with a view to confiscation," the Swiss police office said.

Last month, Italy's highest criminal court ordered a new trial for Craxi on charges of illegal political party financing, part of the Bribesville scandals that brought down his Socialists and other powerful forces earlier this decade.

An appeals court in 1997 upheld Craxi's 1994 conviction and sentenced him to five years and nine months in prison.

Craxi, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Tunisia since 1994, has been convicted in several other corruption cases.

He has always maintained his innocence and claimed he is the victim of a political vendetta.

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