Swiss transmit East German regime bank data to Germany

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The Swiss Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it had transmitted to Germany bank documents relating to alleged illegal financial transactions made by the former East German regime.

"The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday handed to the German Embassy in Bern a series of bank documents that could shed light on the existence of possible misappropriated assets of parties and people's organisations from former East Germany," it added.

Germany had first sought help from Switzerland in 2003, after investigators found that state and party entities of East Germany "used foreign companies for legal business purposes as well as for financing illegal activities."

The Swiss ministry said: "According to German investigations such front companies also existed in Switzerland."

In October 2007, German Chancellor Angela Merkel specifically asked Bern to launch an inquiry involving several banks in Switzerland.

Fourteen banks were then instructed to provide information on transactions of suspects.

"In many cases, the deadline for storing bank documents had already expired. Of the 14 banks asked, eight reported a total of 56 accounts," said the ministry.

The bank documents transmitted to Germany could be used as evidence in court once Bern agrees to through a legal assistance procedure.

© 2010 AFP

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