Swiss to probe Tiger money laundering in SLJune 11, 2012, 9:41 pm
The Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office would take its investigation into suspected money laundering by 12 members of Swiss Based Tigers (LTTE), to the Netherlands and Sri Lanka, it was reported on Sunday.
The NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported that in the Netherlands, Swiss prosecutors planned to interview the LTTE finance head who was imprisoned there. In Sri Lanka, prosecutors would question some 25 people from senior ranks of the Tamil Tigers, some of whom were currently imprisoned.
Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, told the paper the aim of the investigations, due to take place in autumn, was to strengthen a money laundering case against 12 Swiss Tamils.
"It’s to prove that the Swiss branch of the global LTTE knowingly and willingly misused money from illegally obtained loans to inject it into the international finance circuit of the organisation," Balmer said.
The prosecutor’s office suspects that the Tamils used fake pay-slips or Sri Lankans resident in Switzerland to obtain loans of between SFr70,000 – 100,000 ($73,000 - 104,000). Once obtained, the cash was couriered to Sri Lanka where it was laundered locally and eventually used to finance the purchase of weapons during the civil war, the prosecutor believes.
The investigations in Sri Lanka come after the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office made an official request to Sri Lankan authorities in 2011, which was granted.
However, under the terms of the agreement with Sri Lankan authorities – which Swiss authorities fear would otherwise assert undue pressure on witnesses – the interrogations will take place in the presence of Swiss lawyers only.
The usual Sri Lankan method of hearings based on a questionnaire will not occur and no Sri Lankan authorities will be present during the interrogations.
The three-decade civil war in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009 after Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and the last of his soldiers made their final stand against the Sri Lankan army. (swissinfo.ch)
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