ICoast files complaint against Gbago over Swiss assets
The new Ivory Coast government has filed a criminal complaint against ousted former strongman Laurent Gbagbo in Switzerland for money laundering and to recover millions of dollars he squirreled away in Swiss banks, a lawyer defending the state said Monday.
"The complaint filed against Mr. Gbagbo, his wife and several members of his circle was sent on March 29 in the name of the Republic of Ivory Coast," Bruno de Preux, a Swiss lawyer representing the Ivorien government told AFP.
The complaint was filed at the Swiss government's criminal investigations department aimed at "retrieving all the Ivorien assets blocked by Switzerland," he added.
According to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the funds amount to some 70 million Swiss francs (80 million dollars, 55 million euros).
In January, Switzerland, traditionally seen as a safe haven for dictators' assets, immediately blocked funds belonging to Gbagbo in order to prevent their misappropriation before their origin could be determined.
Last Friday President Alassane Ouattara, regarded by the international community as the winner of a run-off poll with Gbagbo last year, was sworn in as head of state after five months of violence and political standoff.
The fighting between the followers of Gbagbo and Ouattara had prompted fears of a return to the all-out civil war which effectively led to a north-south divide in the former French colony at the last decade.
Gbagbo was arrested on April 11 with his wife Simone and roughly 100 loyalists following a raid on his residence in Abidjan by pro-Ouattara forces.
© 2011 AFP