Switzerland returns frozen bribes to Taiwan

14th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

BERN, June 14, 2007 (AFP) - Switzerland on Wednesday returned to Taiwan 34 million dollars out of a total 520 million dollars (391 million euros) frozen in Swiss banks following a giant corruption scandal involving the sale of French frigates to Taipei.

BERN, June 14, 2007 (AFP) - Switzerland on Wednesday returned to Taiwan 34 million dollars out of a total 520 million dollars (391 million euros) frozen in Swiss banks following a giant corruption scandal involving the sale of French frigates to Taipei.

Swiss judge Paul Perraudin said in a statement that the funds "have been sent today to judicial authorities in Taiwan," adding that the blocked money was "presumed to have been illegal commissions."

He however said the money had been repatriated only on condition that the "two people implicated get a fair trial," adding that "the guarantees provided by the Taiwanese justice ministry were an adequate commitment."

Taiwanese authorities estimate they lost 520 million dollars in bribes while negotiating the 2.8-billion-dollar purchase of six warships built by France's Thomson-CSF (now Thales).

The money went on commissions to middlemen, politicians and military officers in Taiwan and France.

Magistrates in France last year ended a five-year probe into alleged 1991 kickbacks paid to French officials, without getting to the bottom of the affair.

The case, alleged to be the biggest French corruption scandal in the last 50 years, may never come to court as successive French governments have refused to give the two investigating magistrates access to top-secret defence files.

The key suspect in the case is Taiwanese businessman Andrew Wang. Altogether 900 million dollars was frozen by Swiss banks on the suspicion that they were bribes.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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