Swiss court grants Spain aid in huge stamp collecting scam
Switzerland's top criminal court on Tuesday granted Spain access to secret Swiss banking details in an investigation into a suspected stamp collecting scam that defrauded around 350,000 people.
Spanish media have reported that investigators believe two major stamp trading companies laundered some 3.5 billion euros (4.7 billion dollars) obtained from fake sales of stamps through foreign bank accounts, including in Switzerland.
The Swiss Federal Criminal Tribunal rejected an appeal by the bank account holders, whose names were not made public, seeking to overturn an earlier judgement accepting Spain's 2009 request for legal assistance
The ruling noted that magistrates in Madrid suspected one of the appellants of being behind the "falsification of official stamps" and jointly involved in a "huge philatelic fraud."
Spanish savers were attracted by the promise of market beating profits from stamps held in deposit, according to court documents.
But magistrates in Spain believe the stamps never existed and the savers were defrauded in a giant pyramid or 'Ponzi' scheme that was only fuelled by the flow of fresh cash from unsuspecting new investors.
A magistrate in Geneva froze the suspect Swiss bank accounts last year.
© 2010 AFP