Swiss to return six million dollars to Haiti

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Barb
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Swiss to return six million dollars to Haiti

Post by Barb » Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:12 pm

Swiss to Redirect $6M From Haiti's Former Dictator
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 12, 2009

BERN, Switzerland (AP) -- The Swiss government is ready to release 7 million Swiss francs ($6 million) seized from bank accounts linked to Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude ''Baby Doc'' Duvalier -- but not back to his family.

The Duvalier family failed to prove that the money is of legitimate origin and are therefore not entitled to the assets, the Federal Office of Justice said Thursday.

The family has 30 days to appeal the decision to Switzerland's Federal Criminal Tribunal. If there is no appeal or if the tribunal upholds the government's decision as expected, the money will be released.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry said in that case it will select which aid organizations in Haiti would receive the money. The assets ''are to be used for social or humanitarian projects to benefit the Haitian population,'' the justice office said.

Officials with Haiti's foreign ministry could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Many in Haiti consider that money stolen from public funds before Duvalier was ousted in 1986. He has always denied that.

The money, which has been frozen since 2002, is in accounts in the names of Duvalier, who is believed to be living in exile in France, and members of his family.

Folco Galli, spokesman of the Federal Office of Justice, said the amount of the assets has always been around 7 million Swiss francs.

But ''since the assets were blocked, nothing has been released,'' he told The AP. ''That's all the money there is in Switzerland linked to Duvalier.''

Swiss aid organizations said Haiti urgently needs the money to bring food and drinking water to hundreds of thousands suffering from the impact of four tropical storms and hurricanes that battered the impoverished Caribbean nation last year.

Switzerland has traditionally been a favorite location for dictators' money because of its banking secrecy rules. But reforms over the past two decades have made it harder to hide money in Switzerland and the country has become a world leader in returning such cash.

Switzerland has returned virtually all of the roughly $730 million in Swiss accounts linked to the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha back to his West African nation.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/02 ... y-Doc.html

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Guysanto
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Post by Guysanto » Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:41 pm

Six million dollars is not a lot of money. I am certain that Jean-Claude, his wife and his sisters, got away with FAR MORE than that. In addition, France has profited from the embezzlement of funds and the misery of the Haitian people. Switzerland too has benefited from holding that money for so long though the Swiss government knew all along that there was absolutely no way the Duvaliers could have honestly earned so much money. I remember reading a report from an U.S. accounting firm that estimated the fortune stolen by the Duvaliers when they departed in 1986 at several hundred million dollars.

Nevertheless all that loot did not seem to make them any happier, either because Michelle Bennett wasted most of it or the French system sucked it off them quickly enough. I can well imagine it, as Western European countries are expert prostitutes in the art of sucking dry their neo-colonialist puppets in Haiti or in Africa in exchange for flatteries and the promise of a fabulous life (until the money runs out). Nevertheless, the Duvaliers will always be better off than average Haitians and I, for one, will not feel sorry for any of them.

I can only hope that the six million dollars can be allocated to some anti-poverty conservation and renovation program that would allow our countrymen to begin reclaiming the rich maritime life they used to enjoy off Haiti's coasts. I know that it would take far more than six million dollars to accomplish this, as that amount of money may be just a drop of water in the bucket, but we've got to start somewhere: Stop our soil erosion, reforest our land, recycle our plastics, engage in some efficient waste management, stop polluting our waters, and eventually bring back the fish, the shrimp, the lobster, the conch, crab and other sea-life that used to constitute a significant part of the Haitian diet.

That's just one idea of course, but food sufficiency is as basic as it gets.

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