Swiss seek to repatriate cash of ex-Haiti dictator

Switzerland renewed attempts to confiscate nearly $6 million from exiled former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.

Swiss seek to repatriate cash of ex-Haiti dictator

Switzerland renewed attempts on Wednesday to confiscate nearly $6 million from exiled former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, saying the assets would be frozen for the present.

The Swiss cabinet said it had asked the foreign ministry to draft legislation by the end of February to allow the assets to be confiscated and returned to Haiti, which suffered a devastating earthquake last month.

The move came after the Swiss Supreme Court reversed a Justice Ministry decision in February last year to seize the $5.7 million.

"The Federal Council has been looking for a way to avoid allowing the assets to return to the Duvalier family who acquired them by illicit means," the cabinet said in a statement.

The legislation must be passed by parliament.

Duvalier ruled Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world from 1971 to 1986, when he was overthrown and fled to France.

He became president after the death of his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier who held an iron grip over the Caribbean state thanks to the notorious Tonton Macoutes, a paramilitary group.

The decision is a further step by Switzerland to shed its its image as a safe haven for illicit funds. The alpine nation is the largest offshore centre in the world with nearly a third of all estimated global offshore wealth held in Swiss banks.

Last year Switzerland pledged to cooperate with foreign authorities on tax evasion.

In February 2009, the Justice Ministry ruled the money should be given to the people of Haiti because it was unable to establish the funds had been acquired legally.

Haitian authorities have accused Duvalier and his clan of plundering state coffers of several hundred million dollars and hiding the money abroad.

Reuters

Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2010, 23:21
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