The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has opened criminal investigations into suspected money laundering activities by several people close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to former Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said it had received information from the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland (MROS) in relation to Libya and Syria.
“I can confirm that procedures relating to money laundering [have been opened] resulting from that information,” the spokesman told the Swiss news agency, confirming a report published in the NZZ am Sonntag.
The investigations concern Syrian and Libyan citizens. In the cases of the Libyans, several people are also being investigated for involvement in organised crime, the spokesman said.
In its annual report released last week, MROS said it had seen a 40 per cent increase in reports of suspicious money transactions – for an estimated total of SFr3.3 billion ($3.51 billion) – an increase related mainly to the events of the Arab Spring.
The prosecutor’s office has also launched criminal proceedings for money laundering and organised crime activities against a dozen family members and close associates of fallen Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.