Frigate sale to Taiwan: Switzerland provides legal assistance

Federal examining magistrate issues three final orders

Press Release, FOJ, 08.12.2003

Bern, 8.12.2003. The criminal prosecution authorities in France, Taiwan and Liechtenstein are to receive evidence from Switzerland for their criminal proceedings in connection with the sale of French frigates to Taiwan. The federal examining magistrate, Paul Perraudin, has issued three final orders to this effect.

In 1991 the French company Thomson closed a deal with Taiwan for six frigates at a price of around USD 2.5 billion. Although a clause in the contract expressly forbids the payment of commission, the Taiwanese authorities concluded from the inflated price that the deal constituted a serious case of international corruption. On 6 November 2001 they submitted a request for legal assistance from Switzerland in connection with criminal proceedings on the grounds of fraud, money laundering and corruption.

The French authorities also requested legal assistance from Switzerland in connection with criminal proceedings on the grounds of disloyal business management and handling stolen goods. The original application was submitted on 7 November 2001 and subsequently extended several times. The third application for legal assistance from Switzerland was lodged by the Liechtenstein authorities on 4 July 2001 in connection with criminal proceedings on the grounds of money laundering and participation in a criminal organization.

Around USD 600 million remain frozen

The Federal Office of Justice delegated the execution of the applications for legal assistance to federal examining magistrate Paul Perraudin. He is conducting criminal proceedings – originally brought in Canton Zurich and later taken over by Canton Geneva – on the grounds of money laundering and document falsification in which assets worth around USD 600 million have been frozen. In his final orders of 28 November 2003, the federal examining magistrate instructed the files (and bank documents in particular) that have already been collected in connection with the proceedings in Switzerland to be handed over to the applicant authorities. He also ordered assets to be frozen in connection with the legal assistance proceedings.

The final orders of the federal investigating magistrate can be appealed against before the Swiss Federal Supreme Court within 30 days. Only if no appeal has been lodged within this period or if the Federal Supreme Court has dismissed any appeals will Switzerland be able to hand over the legal assistance files to the criminal prosecution authorities in France, Taiwan and Liechtenstein.

Further information

Note

For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.

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