Swiss Government Freezes Marcos’ Accounts After Efforts to Withdraw Assets
The Swiss government froze all assets belonging to former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos at Swiss banks here today after attempts to withdraw money on behalf of the ousted leader.
The freeze, initiated after attempts were made Monday to withdraw funds on behalf of Marcos, includes all his assets, those of his family and companies and people linked to him.
Pierre Schmid, a deputy director of the Office of Federal Police, said the freeze order was without precedent.
In 1979, an Iranian request that the assets of the deposed shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, be frozen was turned down. The matter is still in Swiss courts.
The freeze on Marcos’ accounts will be in effect until further notice and applies to “any assets in Switzerland held by the Marcos family and persons, companies and the like connected with them,” an announcement by the Federal Council said.
Six Banks Involved
The order from the seven-member group that heads the executive branch of the Swiss government was given to six banks and an association that covers all commercial banks operating in Switzerland.
A spokesman for Swiss Bank Corp. in Basel confirmed that his bank is one of the six banks told to withhold Marcos funds.
Switzerland’s largest bank, Union Bank of Switzerland, also has been told to freeze possible funds, a spokeswoman said.
Today’s unexpected move follows a warning by the Swiss Banking Commission to banks last Friday to watch carefully any move to deposit or withdraw money on behalf of Marcos.
The commission, which is responsible for supervising Swiss banks, said rules on banking secrecy make it impossible to confirm reports that Marcos had millions of dollars deposited here, including $800 million in one Swiss account.
The banks, which until today also declined to comment on whether money had been deposited with them by Marcos, said they will have no alternative but to help authorities if the correct legal procedure is followed.
The government will meet Wednesday to decide how to continue, the statement added.
A special envoy from the Philippine government is expected in Bern on Wednesday to discuss ways for Manila to recover the money.