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Swiss extend freeze on some Arab Spring assets

Source: Wed, 18 Dec 2013 03:58 PM
Author: Reuters
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In this 2009 file photo, safe boxes are pictured at the vault of a Swiss bank in Zurich REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
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ZURICH, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Switzerland will block assets held by the toppled former presidents of Tunisia and Egypt for a further three years to give the two countries more time to investigate the origins of the money, the Swiss government said on Wednesday.

Around 700 million Swiss francs tied to Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak and 60 million francs linked to deposed Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali have been frozen since the leaders were ousted at the start of 2011.

Criminal investigations into the provenance of the assets have not made enough progress to allow Switzerland lift the block, which is imposed for periods of three years, the government said in a statement.

"The aim of (the extension) is to give investigations in Tunisia and Egypt more time and to take account of the political transition in the two countries," the government said.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; Editing by John Stonestreet)

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