Tripoli, 21 May:
The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that a criminal investigation into money laundering has been launched against an . . .[restrict]unspecified number of Libyans said to have been close to Muammar Qaddafi. Investigations have also begun against Syrians linked to the Bashar Al-Assad regime suspected of the same offence.
A spokesman at the Prosecutor’s Office said on Sunday that the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland had sent it a report on the issue.? “I can confirm that procedures relating to money laundering [have been opened] resulting from that information,” the official told the Swiss news agency. ?He added that in the cases of the Libyans, several people are also being investigated for involvement in organised crime.
The Swiss authorities said in a report published last week that they had seen a 40-percent increase in suspect money transactions in the last year — an increase believed to be linked mainly to the events of the Arab Spring.? The figure is now 3.3 billion Swiss francs ($3.51 billion).
Criminal proceedings for money laundering and organised crime have already been launched by the Swiss against 12 family members and associates of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Switzerland, which was keen to strengthen efforts to change its image as a haven for illicit funds, passed new legislation in recent years concerning money laundering. [/restrict]