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Swiss freeze Qaddafi assets: How dictators stash their cash 101

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Despite its reputation for banking secrecy – and precisely because the government has tried to challenge its stereotype as a financial refuge for ex-dictators and war criminals – Switzerland has among the most progressive anti-money-laundering laws. Indeed, Swiss law is today a model for other nations.

“Switzerland is a trailblazer here and other countries are thinking how they can join in,” says Daniel Thelesklaf, who heads the Swiss-based International Center for Asset Recovery.

“Switzerland is one of the most forward-leaning countries in the world of asset recovery,” agrees Mark Vlasic, a Georgetown University law professor and partner at Ward & Ward PLLC, who served as head of operations of the World Bank's Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative.

Its 1983 Federal Act on International Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters was first used 25 years ago to freeze the assets of the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos, ousted in a 1986 coup.

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