Swiss judgement targets the pinstripe infrastructure of crime
The Financial Times reports that M. Aeschlimann, a magistrate in Geneva, has fined an unnamed Monaco-based intermediary who helped Abba Abacha, son of the former dictator of Nigeria, to launder his gains from "participation in a criminal organisation." In addition to the fine, the intermediary has also been ordered to pay SFr10 million (€6.6 million)- the value of fees charged for acting as a fence to Mr Abacha jnr. - to the canton of Geneva.
According to the FT, this move "marks a further step in international efforts to tackle theft by corrupt rulers by going after intermediaries as well as principals."
Switzerland is gaining itself a reputation for taking a lead in tracking down and repatriating embezzled funds. This latest move will set a legal precedent that should cast a chill in the bones of a wide range of intermediaries, including lawyers, trustees, fiduciaries, investment companies, accountants, and bankers who until now have been all too willing to act the 'wilfully blind professional' in return for massive fees and charges.
The FT also reports that another financier accused of helping Gen Abacha to launder cash through the British Channel Island of Jersey has been arrested and is expected to stand trial.