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Switzerland to return nearly $20 million to Brazil


switzerlandSwitzerland is returning to Brazil $19.4 million seized after a probe into money laundering, the attorney-general’s office said Wednesday.

An investigation was launched in 2003 against some Brazilian officials who were suspected of corruption and had bank accounts in the Alpine nation, the Attorney General’s Office (OAG) said in a statement.

“Thanks to evidence received from Brazil, in 2008 the OAG was able to conclude its criminal proceedings and confiscate assets totalling $19.4 million,” it said.

The same year Brazilian authorities — who were themselves conducting criminal proceedings in the same case under an operation codenamed Anaconda — asked Switzerland to return the confiscated assets.

The restitution was delayed by procedural red tape, officials said.

The attorney general’s office said restitution normally involved a 50:50 sharing of the seized assets between Switzerland and the country in question but an exception had been made in this case as the money “originated primarily from corruption.”

Operation Anaconda targeted Brazilian judges and police accused of sweeping corruption.

Apart from Switzerland, the accused are suspected of spiriting money into the Bahamas and investing in real estate in Uruguay.

Switzerland updated its anti-money laundering legislation at the end of 2014 to reflect international standards.

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