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Swiss close case against Zardari; $60m unfrozen

Swiss judicial authorities said on Tuesday they had closed a money-laundering case against Pakistani presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts over the past decade.

Gulf News

Geneva: Swiss judicial authorities said on Tuesday they had closed a money-laundering case against Pakistani presidential candidate Asif Ali Zardari and released $60 million frozen in Swiss accounts over the past decade.

Daniel Zappelli, Geneva's chief prosecutor, said that he had no evidence to bring Zardari, 55, the widower of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to trial.

Pakistan's government recently dropped out of all related cases it had initiated in Switzerland, saying the couple could not be accused of corruption, he said.

Zappelli said the full $60 million in assets, seized at the request of the Pakistan authorities, had been released.

"All the money has been unfrozen. For money-laundering to be proven, you have to show it was the product of a crime," Zappelli said.

"Pakistan has withdrawn its requests for judicial assistance and has said it has no claim on the frozen assets," he said.

He declined to say exactly who owned the accounts holding the $60 million, citing confidentiality. But 3.9 million Swiss francs ($3.55 million) in commissions had reverted to the state of Geneva's coffers after not being claimed, he said.

Zardari's lawyer Saverio Lembo welcomed Zappelli's decision to shelve the long-running case. "It confirms what my client has pleaded since 1997," he told reporters.

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