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Swiss File First Charges in 'Car Wash' Probe

October 22, 2019

© Sezer Özger / Adobe Stock

Switzerland has pressed charges against a person in a corruption probe of Brazilian state oil company Petrobras and construction firm Odebrecht, the attorney general's office said, adding it was seeking to conclude the case quickly.

Prosecutors in Bern on Tuesday said they suspect the person, acting as a financial middleman, of helping bribe public officials and of money laundering in the sprawling "Operation Car Wash" case.

It has become one of the biggest corruption affairs in Latin America and resulted in the prosecution and imprisonment of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, among others.

Swiss prosecutors said they had submitted the case to the Federal Criminal Court under an accelerated proceeding to conclude a case more quickly, in which an admission of guilt and acceptance of civil claims by the accused was required.

The unnamed suspect is a person of Swiss-Brazilian origin who already faces criminal proceedings in Brazil and Portugal. The court may still reject the accelerated request, prosecutors said, which would revert the case to a normal procedure.

The Petrobras-Odebrecht case has led to around 60 criminal proceedings Switzerland while more than 130 businessmen and politicians have been convicted in the case in Brazil.

The Swiss attorney general has seized assets in Switzerland worth more than 620 million Swiss francs ($627 million) and returned around 390 million francs to the Brazilian authorities.

($1 = 0.9887 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and John Miller, Editing by Michael Shields)

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