Salinas assets handed over to Mexico

Federal Examining Magistrate concludes 12-year proceedings

Press Release, FOJ, 18.06.2008

Bern. Switzerland will hand over to Mexico assets of Raul Salinas totalling approximately USD 74 million. Other assets, which are not of criminal origin, have been unfrozen. This ruling by the Federal Examining Magistrate responsible concludes proceedings that have lasted over 12 years. The case is a further demonstration of Switzerland's willingness to act resolutely to prevent abuse of its financial centre and return assets of criminal origin to the victims.

The Mexican authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into the activities of Raul Salinas and others in connection with money laundering and the embezzlement of public funds. The Swiss authorities initiated criminal proceedings for money laundering in 1995, which they finally transferred to the Mexican authorities in 2002. Some USD 110 million were frozen at the time, as part of the Swiss proceedings and on the basis of an application from Mexico for legal assistance.

USD 74 million clearly of criminal origin

On 19 December 2007, Mexico applied to Switzerland for the surrender of the Salinas assets frozen in Switzerland. The Mexican authorities demonstrated, with the support of bank documents and other papers, how public funds amounting at the time to around USD 66 million had been misappropriated and moved to domestic banks. The Swiss authorities had already reconstructed the trail of the funds outside Mexico. On the basis of the Swiss and Mexican proceedings, the clearly criminal origin of these assets was thus demonstrated, thereby fulfilling the requirements for their early handover. The parties concerned have not opposed the handover of these assets, totalling USD 74 million (including interest), to Mexico.

Remaining assets unfrozen

Since the investigations did not reveal any indications that the remaining assets were of criminal origin, they have been returned to the claimants, whose claim had already been accepted by the civil courts in Switzerland. By way of derogation from the principle that legal assistance is provided free of charge, the Federal Examining Magistrate has also ordered that CHF 2.2 million be transferred to the federal treasury and CHF 1.1 million to the treasury of the Canton of Geneva. These sums will cover the costs of the Swiss authorities' wide-ranging activities since 1995.

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