Swiss probe Yanukovych associates

Ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych (r), fled to Russia following protests in Kiev in February Keystone

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has opened two money laundering investigations into associates of Ukraine’s deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych. Switzerland has already frozen the assets of 29 Ukrainians, including those of the former leader.

This content was published on March 24, 2014 and agencies

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office told Reuters on Sunday that the formal investigations were opened on Thursday after confirmation from the federal police unit responsible with liaising with Swiss banks in cases of suspected money laundering.

"The state public prosecutor can only open an investigation when there is a reasonable suspicion of possible punishable behaviour," the spokeswoman said in the statement.

"In connection with the notification from Switzerland's money laundering reporting office last week, this was confirmed after a thorough analysis."

One investigation focuses on two people from Yanukovych’s entourage, she said. However, no details were given of the second investigation.

It is not known how much money Ukrainian politicians and their families have in Switzerland, nor how much has been frozen by banks. The Swiss measures began to come into force at the end of February.

In total the assets of 29 Ukrainians have been frozen, including those of Yanukovych’s sons Alexander and Viktor, and Alexey Azarov, son of the former Ukrainian prime minister, Mykola Azarov. Also on the list are the former head of the secret services and the son of the general prosecutor.

Pro-Russian Yanukovych was kicked out of power on February 22 following protests in Kiev over his move to end a trade deal with Europe in favour of economic ties with Russia.

Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, has said loans worth $37 billion (CHF32 billion) had disappeared from state coffers under Yanukovych. Yatseniuk told parliament that up to $70 billion had been sent out of the country during Yanukovych’s three-year rule, but it was not clear how much of this money was illegal.

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