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Swiss return $1.8 billion in seized Arab Spring assets

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10:34 CET+01:00

Switzerland said on Tuesday it has returned nearly 1.7 billion francs ($1.83 billion) in illicitly placed assets to countries involved in the Arab Spring regime changes.

"The return of illicit assets is a key component of the system set up by Switzerland to protect its financial sector and to fight against international financial crime," the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

It did not name the countries to which money had been returned however.

Switzerland revealed the figures during a meeting of international experts on Monday and Tuesday in Lausanne that focused on the recovery of illicit assets held by autocratic leaders in countries where regime changes occurred.

The seminar included experts from international aid organizations in 15 countries.

Meanwhile, Swiss courts have expanded investigations into frozen Tunisian and Egyptian assets, amid suspicions that a crime syndicate may be linked to them.

"In addition to the suspicion of money laundering," investigators are probing the possible involvement of a "criminal organization," a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's office, Jeannette Balmer, told AFP.

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