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Six officials to face questioning over Bellasi scandal

One of the biggest defence ministry fraud scandals to hit Switzerland is to widen, with another six people facing a disciplinary investigation.

This content was published on January 23, 2000 - 15:37

One of the biggest defence ministry fraud scandals to hit Switzerland is to widen, with another six people facing a disciplinary investigation.

The SonntagsZeitung reports that six government officials from the defence ministry are to be questioned in connection with the Bellasi affair. They face losing their jobs if found guilty of violating their professional obligations.

The top-ranking officials were directly accountable to the government for any movement of ground troops. They also oversaw the revision of Dino Bellasi's accounts between 1994 and 1999, explained Ground Forces spokesman, Kurt Messerli, to the Sunday newspaper.

The disciplinary committee must establish whether the six officials adequately controlled the accounts. But Messerli stressed that there are as yet no indications that any law has been broken. The results of the inquiry are due to be released by the start of April.

The defence minister, Adolf Ogi, announced last December that investigations into the Bellasi fraud scandal would continue in an attempt to uncover how some SFr9 million ($5.9 million) from the department landed in private hands.

Dino Bellasi was arrested on August 13 1999 on suspicion of having stolen SFr8.9 million ($5.9 million) from defence ministry funds while working as an accountant in the ministry's intelligence unit.

Bellasi first claimed he was ordered by his superiors to steal the money in order to finance the formation of a shadow intelligence unit. But he later retracted that statement.

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