BEIRUT, July 16, 2012 (AFP) – Tunisia’s former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, toppled by a popular revolt in 2011, is ready to hand over his Swiss-held financial “assets” to the Tunisian state, his Lebanese lawyer said on Monday.
“My client is ready to hand over all his alleged assets and economic resources held in Switzerland to the Tunisian state,” lawyer Akram Azoury said in a draft statement to the Swiss ambassador in Lebanon, a copy of which was sent to AFP.
In the letter, which he plans to send to the Swiss foreign ministry, Azoury added: “You are authorised to transfer his alleged assets and economic resources to the Tunisian state, without any prior judicial or extra-judicial procedure, and without even referring to my client.”
At the end of June, a delegation of Tunisian experts met in Bern and Lausanne with a team of Swiss officials handling a case concerning the return of Ben Ali’s frozen assets, the Swiss government said last Tuesday.
“The aim of this strengthened cooperation is to restore as soon as possible the illicit assets held by the entourage of former president Ben Ali,” the Swiss authorities said.
Last October, Bern said it had frozen 60 million Swiss francs (48.7 million euros) worth of Tunisian assets.
In 2011, Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia, was sentenced to more than 66 years in prison in three separate trials in Tunisia, including for embezzlement, illegal possession of weapons and narcotics, housing fraud and abuse of power.