Swiss Hold $1B Arab Spring 'Dictator' Funds

Two Egyptian policemen guard while Egyptian men gather by an artist working on a mural with faces depicting ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, on a newly whitewashed wall in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. Under cover of darkness, a few municipality workers quietly began to paint over an icon of Egypt's revolution: a giant, elaborate public mural on the street that saw some of the most violent clashes between protesters and police over the past two years. Arabic reads "paint over the revolution, life standard, freedom, social justice."
Associated Press + More

GENEVA (AP) — A Swiss official says the government has blocked almost 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.07 billion) linked to rulers in four Arab Spring nations.

M. Valentin Zellweger, who as head of the Swiss foreign ministry's international law department also oversees its task force for "potentate funds," says the assets seized since early 2011 are tied to rulers in Syria, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

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He told reporters Tuesday that the Swiss government is working with Tunisia and Egypt to return their nations' money, including 700 million francs ($755 million) stashed away by former President Hosni Mubarak and his aides.

The Swiss government says it has previously returned about 1.7 billion francs ($1.83 billion) in so-called dictator assets to Peru, the Philippines, Nigeria, Angola, Kazakhstan, Mexico and other countries in recent years.

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