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Swiss govt. 'willing to cooperate' in Zardari graft cases

Islamabad, Wed, 18 Jan 2012 ANI

Islamabad, Jan 18 (ANI): The government of Switzerland might have expressed complete neutrality on the graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari by terming it an 'internal matter', but it has now said that they will always be ready to cooperate with other states requesting mutual legal assistance through established channels.


The Express Tribune quoted the Swiss Embassy in Islamabad, as saying that: "Contrary to misperceptions, Swiss banking regulation is no obstacle for authorities to prosecute. It was regularly lifted in all kinds of investigations including tax offences and money laundering cases."


Reports suggest that there are no criminal proceedings pending against Zardari or former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after a Swiss investigating magistrate handed down a six-month suspended sentence against the couple.


"One thing must be clearly understood. Contrary to common perception, the Supreme Court is not asking the government to write a letter to re-open criminal proceedings against anyone," prominent lawyer Abid Hasan Minto clarified.


"Pakistan's government was never party to criminal proceedings against the Swiss companies SGS and Cotecna. Those proceedings were started by the Swiss government on their own initiative since both the companies are Swiss. Once the charges of money-laundering were proven, then the Pakistani government asked the Swiss government to return the $60 million frozen in the name of those Swiss companies," Minto added.


He also said that if the Swiss cases are not revived by April, they would be considered dead and then they cannot be revived.


"That is why the court is pressing the government to write the application now," he said.


In a recent interview, Zardari had said that his government would never ask the Swiss government to re-open the matter.


The Pakistan Peoples Party termed the whole saga a 'political witch-hunt'. (ANI)


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