Switzerland has unblocked assets worth CHF21 million ($23 million) belonging to fomer Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, NZZ am Sonntag reported on Sunday.
The Swiss foreign ministry already decided in December not to renew the relevant ordinance, which entered into force in January 2011 and was valid for three years, the Sunday newspaper reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.
The ministry said that it was no longer justified to freeze the assets because mutual judicial assistance procedure had not led to any results. The Ivory Coast has made three mutual assistance requests, trying to prove that Gbagbo had acquired the assets illegally.
The Swiss cabinet had ordered the freezing of Gbagbo’s assets in January 2011 after Gbagbo lost a presidential election to Alassane Ouattara a few months earlier. The Swiss foreign ministry said at the time that it wants to prevent Switzerland’s financial centre being used as a place of safety for assets that may have been acquired illegally.
Originally, Switzerland had frozen CHF70 million from the Ivory Coast, but over the past three years, the foreign ministry had removed several people from the list and unblocked their assets.
The Federal prosecutor has been conducting criminal proceedings against persons unknown because of suspected money laundering since 2011.
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