The Italian finance minister, Ottaviano Del Turco, has blamed Switzerland's banking system for the corruption case in the Swiss canton of Ticino, known as Ticinogate.This content was published on August 8, 2000 - 22:23
Del Turco said the arrest of the former Ticino criminal court judge, Franco Verda, on corruption charges was just one aspect of a much wider problem.
Speaking to Swiss Italian Radio, Del Turco particularly criticised the Swiss authorities for failing to offer legal assistance in the case which involved international cigarette smuggling.
He said the Italians were not the only ones to realise that the trail of illegal cigarette sales led to Swiss banks.
The Swiss authorities immediately rejected the accusation that they had failed to cooperate sufficiently with their Italian counterparts.
A government spokesman emphasised that Switzerland cannot offer legal assistance in a cigarette smuggling case, which is only a customs offence under Swiss law.
Verda is accused of colluding with the Italian businessman, Gerardo Cuomo, who is himself suspected of involvement in an international cigarette smuggling and money-laundering ring.
Verda allegedly warned Cuomo about the outcome of a court case dealing with confiscated Mafia money. Italian police tapped the telephone calls.
Cuomo has been in police custody in Switzerland since May 10 and is awaiting extradition to Italy.
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