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Government plans new asset-freezing law

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13:45 CEST+02:00

The Swiss government said on Thursday that it would consider creating a new law to make it easier to freeze the assets of foreign dictators.

The foreign ministry has been charged with the task of drawing up the formal basis for a law that defines so-called "politically exposed persons" (PEPs) and the criteria for blocking their Swiss accounts.

Calls for the new law have come about because the government currently has to rely on the constitution, which gives the government the right to suspend normal regulations in the interests of another country.

Many lawyers believe this provides insufficient legal cover, because it fails to define the circumstances under which the emergency powers can be enacted.

Social Democrat MP Susanne Leutenegger-Oberholzer brought the motion for the new law, which she said would "guarantee the legal security that financial institutions need to be able to count on."

The government has already frozen the Swiss assets of former Tunisian leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, whose regimes were overthrown in popular uprisings this spring.

Switzerland has also blocked the assets of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, his family and entourage.

bk/The Local


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