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Swiss best at tracing illegal assets: banks

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09:14 CEST+02:00
Other countries should follow Switzerland's lead when it comes to tracing illegal assets hidden in their national banks, Geneva's 80-strong banking association said Wednesday.

"We are the country most capable of tracing money that slips through the net," Bernard Droux, the president of the Geneva Financial Center Foundation, told reporters in Geneva.

"When billions go up in smoke due to a big scandal, it is only in Switzerland that one finds some of it, and you never find anything anywhere else," he said, before adding: "Other countries aren't doing their job."

Droux made his comments a day after Swiss authorities said they had blocked nearly one billion Swiss francs ($1.1 billion, €800 million) in assets linked to former autocratic Middle Eastern leaders since the Arab Spring.

Switzerland had in total blocked about 700 million Swiss francs from Egypt, 60 million from Tunisia, 100 million from Libya and another 100 million from Syria, according to the Swiss foreign ministry.

Switzerland has a long history of tracing and freezing illegal funds and restituting them to the people of the countries they were stolen from.

Droux pointed to the tracing of $700 million in funds linked to Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha after his reign ended with his death in 1998.

It was "strange" Droux said that that amount only added up to about one-fifth of the missing assets, while no other country "said anything about it."

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