Swiss ask Pakistan to charge Bhutto

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The Independent Online
ALLEGATIONS OF corruption against the Pakistani opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, were given new weight yesterday after a Swiss magistrate formally asked Pakistan to press charges against Ms Bhutto for money- laundering.

The request by the investigating magistrate in Geneva, Daniel Devaud, is linked to alleged kickbacks from contracts with Swiss financial inspection firms concluded while Ms Bhutto was prime minister in 1994.

Mr Devaud said Ms Bhutto used a Geneva-based bank account to buy jewellery worth pounds 117,000 in London last August and there is sufficient evidence of money-laundering. A pounds 92,000 diamond necklace bought at the time was confiscated from a safe deposit box in Switzerland.

Last October, the Swiss authorities forced seven banks in Geneva, including a subsidiary of Barclays Bank, to freeze pounds 8.6m belonging to Ms Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, after a request from Pakistan.

Ms Bhutto has denied the accusations, saying they are part of a political plot against her family orchestrated by the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. Her supporters claim that the Swiss are being fed false documents.