Press Release, FOJ, 15.04.2015
Switzerland returns USD 19.4 million to Brazil
In 2003, following up a report to the Money Laundering Reporting Office, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) instituted criminal proceedings against a number of Brazilian nationals who were the holders or beneficial owners of a variety of bank accounts in Switzerland. The OAG submitted a series of requests for mutual legal assistance to Brazil over the course of these proceedings. Thanks to evidence received from Brazil, in 2008 the OAG was able to conclude its criminal proceedings and confiscate assets totalling USD 19.4 million. That same year, the Brazilian authorities – which were themselves conducting criminal proceedings (Operation Anaconda) in the same case – petitioned Switzerland for the restitution of the confiscated assets.
Restitution under division of assets legislation
Assets which have been confiscated as part of criminal proceedings in Switzerland cannot be returned to a foreign state on the basis of the Mutual Assistance Act. Restitution is, however, possible under the Division of Forfeited Assets Act. As a rule, the seized assets will be shared equally between Switzerland and the foreign state. However, where there are sufficient grounds, an exception to this rule may be applied and the assets may be returned in full to the foreign state. This is true of the present case, because the money originated primarily from corruption disadvantaging the Brazilian state, and its confiscation was possible specifically thanks to the legal assistance granted by Brazil. The Federal Office of Justice (FoJ), in agreement with the OAG and other Swiss authorities, has thus concluded the corresponding restitution agreement with the Brazilian Ministry of Justice. Brazil has supplied Switzerland with the declaration of reciprocity required for this agreement to become effective.
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