Extension of the final prolongation of the freezing of Mobutu

Bern, Press release, 25.02.2009

On 12 December 2008, the Federal Council decided to prolong the freezing of the assets of the late president Mobutu and of his entourage (approx. CHF 7.7 million) to 28 February 2009. The purpose of this prolongation was to enable the lawyer of the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC) to initiate proceedings in Switzerland to block the assets and to enable the competent legal authority to decide how to deal with the case. A criminal complaint was filed with the Federal State Prosecutor by the RDC on 23 January 2009. As the examination of the case is a time-consuming task, the Federal Council considered it necessary to order a further extension to the final freezing, i.e. until 30 April 2009.

The freezing of the assets of the late president Mobutu (approx. CHF 7.7 million) dates back to 1997, when the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC) presented a request for legal assistance in a criminal matter to Switzerland. The Federal Office of Justice finally had no other option than to make a negative ruling in December 2003. The Federal Council then ordered the freezing of the assets on the basis of article 184 paragraph 3 Cst. This was renewed in 2006 and at the end of 2008. It should have expired on 28 February 2009. During this period, the Federal Council asked the FDFA to operate as a facilitator to assist the parties in order to find a satisfactory solution. 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC) filed a criminal complaint with the Federal State Prosecutor (FSS) on 23 January 2009. This complaint concerns members of the regime of the late Mr Mobutu as well as members of his family, who are accused of involvement in a criminal organisation. This complaint also seeks to provide a  legal footing for the freezing of the assets that are currently frozen by the Federal Council on the basis of article 184 paragraph 3 Cst.  

A favourable decision by the FSS on the opening of proceedings could pave the way for a ruling to confiscate the assets. It was therefore considered necessary to extend the freeze by two months, i.e. until 30 April 2009.


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