International - POSTED: 2009/08/14 17:12
A Swiss court has backed the government's plan to give aid agencies 7 million Swiss francs ($6 million) seized from bank accounts linked to Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier.
In a ruling published Friday, the Federal Criminal Tribunal rejected an appeal by the Duvalier family, which wants to reclaim the money. It can now appeal the case to Switzerland's highest court.
The government says the Duvalier family has failed to prove that the money stashed in Swiss accounts is of legitimate origin.
Many in Haiti consider that money stolen from public funds before Duvalier was ousted in 1986. Duvalier, who is believed to be living in exile in France, has always denied that.
The court said the Duvalier family had diverted public funds into Swiss accounts through a Liechtenstein foundation that amounted to a "criminal organization."
The accounts in Switzerland have been blocked since 2002.
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 returned hundreds of millions of francs (dollars) to countries in Africa, the Philippines and elsewhere.