Swiss return to Taiwan jailed ex-president's deposits

7th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland has returned to Taiwan about 20 million dollars from deposits held by jailed ex-president Chen Shui-bian, following his corruption conviction, the Swiss attorney general said Tuesday.

"The Attorney General of Switzerland has returned some 20 million Swiss francs (20.4 million dollars, 15.3 million euros) to the Supreme Prosecutors Office of Taiwan," his office said in a statement.

The deposits seized in Swiss banks were "part of the money that was deposited in Switzerland by the former President of the Republic of Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian, who was recently convicted of corruption in his homeland," it added.

Swiss prosecutors said a total of about 37 million Swiss francs had been seized in their money laundering probe into Chen Shui-bian's son and daughter-in-law on suspicion of money laundering since 2008.

Taiwan's Supreme Court last month sentenced Chen and his wife to 19 years in prison on two bribery charges in the first verdict on a string of corruption cases implicating them.

Chen, who has been detained since late 2008, says his prosecution is a vendetta carried out by the island's current administration in retaliation for his pro-independence stance during his 2000-2008 term.

The Swiss investigations in cooperation with Taiwanese counterparts followed a probe into Chen for allegedly embezzling 14.8 million Taiwan dollars (480,500 US) in special expenses from the government while he was president.

Chen later admitted that his wife had wired abroad 20 million US dollars from his past campaign funds, saying she had done so without his knowledge.

The Swiss attorney general's office said the funds deposited in Switzerland "are presumed to have originated from the criminal activities of the former President of the Republic of Taiwan have been returned to the Taiwanese authorities as an anticipated handover."

"No objection was raised by any of the parties to the proceedings to the return of the sum of around 20 million Swiss francs," it added.

A string of corruption scandals implicating Chen, his family and top Democratic Progressive Party officials tarnished the party's image and played a part in its defeat in elections in 2008.

© 2010 AFP

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