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Sunday, 11 July 2010 13:26

Switzerland to Expose Banking Secrets, Stolen Assets From Africa

By Ese Awhotu

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 11 (Leadership) - Perturbed by the high spate of corruption involving looting of public funds from African countries, including Nigeria, the Switzerland government has perfected plans to expose all banking secrets and stolen assets stashed to the country by corrupt government officials.


Switzerland said it no longer wants stolen assets from corrupt individuals or governments in its banks and wanted to give them back to those populations who have suffered the consequences of their kleptocratic governments.


From banking secrets to stolen assets, Switzerland is seeking to share its fifteen years of experience (both successes and failures) to help developing countries in the fight against poverty.


According to Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, it was not about image but rather about justice. For the last fifteen years, Switzerland has embarked on reforms directed towards its banking sector, which in the past allowed African dictators to amass colossal sums of money to the detriment of their poverty stricken populations.


Calmy-Rey who disclosed this at a forum that focused on ill-gotten gains, in Paris, saw Switzerland welcoming other countries to learn from its experience on the subject matter.


AfrikDotCom reports that the Swiss government was eager to increase success stories, regarding stolen assets and looted funds. Developing countries, especially in Africa, lose some $40 billion to corruption. These funds are sucked into other corrupt systems.


According to the report to prove its determination and political will, Switzerland announced that about $1.7 billion (out of a total of $5 billion, according to the World Bank) have been sent back to their countries of origin.


This makes Switzerland, currently holding 7th place in the financial development index, a pioneer. According to the Stolen Asset Recovery (Star) initiative, a product of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (ONODC), for every $100 million dollars given back to a country, about 250 000 homes are connected to water sources.


On the recovery of embezzled funds, Calmy-Rey said the difficulties encountered during the recovery of stolen funds by the Swiss authorities when dealing with "weak states", should be overcome in the near future by virtue of a pending bill in the country's Parliament. If it becomes law, it would help bypass the judicial cooperation process, which is essential in legal proceedings towards fund recovery for those (weak) states.



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