21 January 2013, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO), BERN, Switzerland — Two years after its adoption, Switzerland has decided to amend the Ordinance of 19 January 2011 on measures to freeze the assets of certain persons from Ivory Coast. The amendment has been prompted by developments in Ivory Coast. Switzerland reduces the list of persons falling under the asset freezing measures from 83 to 4 persons. The Ordinance dated 19 January 2005 on sanctions against Ivory Coast has also been amended.
At the beginning of 2011, the Federal Council decided, with immediate effect, to freeze any assets which might be held in Switzerland by Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept the results of the presidential elections, and by his associates, on the grounds that Switzerland’s financial centre should not be used as a safe haven for assets that may have been acquired illegally by these persons. The freeze on assets also prevents such assets being transferred elsewhere, and supports judicial cooperation between Switzerland and Ivory Coast.
The elected President, Alassane Ouattara, took up office in May 2011. Since then the situation in Ivory Coast has eased. In light of this positive development, Switzerland amended its ordinance on the freezing of assets in October 2011. As a result, the amount of frozen assets was reduced from around CHF 70 million in May 2011 to approximately CHF 21 million at present (exchange rate at May 2011).
As part of its efforts to support the work of criminal prosecution authorities in Ivory Coast, Switzerland decided to keep four natural persons listed in the annex of the ordinance on frozen assets, and to amend the annex to the ordinance accordingly.
The 2005 ordinance on sanctions was also modified. This ordinance, which applies the UN sanctions against Ivory Coast, must be amended due to the revision of the 2011 ordinance on frozen assets, and now imposes travel restrictions on eight persons, including Laurent Gbagbo and some members of his entourage, as well as a freeze on their assets.
The amendments to the 2011 ordinance on frozen assets and to the 2005 ordinance on sanctions will enter into force simultaneously on 22 January 2013.