ZURICH, April 5 (Reuters) - The Swiss attorney general’s office (OAG) has now confiscated $1 billion worth of assets linked to Brazil’s scandal-plagued oil firm Petrobras, up from $800 million seized through 2015, it said on Wednesday.
The rising figure was disclosed in Attorney General Michael Lauber’s 2016 annual report, in which his agency outlined efforts to tackle not only global corruption, but also domestic financial crime and Islamist extremism.
Lauber’s three-year investigation into state-owned Petrobas and construction group Odebrecht has targeted Brazilian officials who used Swiss bank accounts to stash bribes paid in exchange for public projects.
So far, more than 1,000 Swiss accounts have been examined, Lauber said, including from Brazil’s former speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who last month was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.
In his report, Lauber once again acknowledged his probe of Malaysia’s scandal-hit state fund 1MDB has been hampered by Malaysian authorities’ refusal to cooperate.
But Switzerland’s top enforcement officer reiterated that other countries are helping to resolve billions of dollars in suspected misappropriations involving fund employees, banks and officials from Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.
Lauber’s office is also pursuing a corruption investigation against Sepp Blatter, ex-president of the world soccer body FIFA, and German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer for his role in his country’s tarnished bid for the 2006 World Cup.
The 2016 report separately outlined the AG’s probes against Islamists and so-called “jihad tourism,” including prosecutions of three Iraqi nationals for supporting illegal organisations as well as a 25-year-old Swiss who sought to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.
Switzerland is getting more queries for help from abroad, with Lauber’s office fielding 193 new requests for international legal assistance last year, up from 145 in 2015, according to the report.
In just four cases did the AG’s office refuse assistance. “With the increasing complexity of the cases, the good interconnection among law-enforcement authorities is becoming more relevant,” Lauber’s office said. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Tom Heneghan)