The Swiss authorities have agreed to return USD $19.3 million to Brazil in assets that they had confiscated following an investigation into Brazilian nationals who were accused of tax evasion and money laundering offenses.
The Swiss Office of the Attorney General commenced criminal proceedings in 2003 against Brazilian citizens who either were the beneficial owners of bank accounts or had their names held in Swiss accounts. This investigation was running parallel to a case which Brazilian authorities were simultaneously investigating, which they named Operation Anaconda.
The Swiss authorities asked Brazil for mutual legal assistance to exchange data, resulting in obtaining the evidence needed to conclude criminal proceedings and therefore confiscate USD $19.3 million in assets five years later in 2008.
During the same year the Brazilian authorities then requested that the assets be returned to Brazil. Normally, Switzerland does not return confiscated assets and under the Division of Forfeited Assets Act, only shares confiscated assets with the country that has provided legal assistance. In some exceptional cases assets are returned in full to the other country. In the present case it was returned because “the money was found to be originated primarily from corruption disadvantaging the State; and the confiscation was only possible due to the legal assistance granted by Brazil”.