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Swiss Freeze Yugoslav Bank Accounts

October 2, 2000

BERN, Switzerland (AP) _ Swiss authorities have blocked 100 bank accounts belonging to associates of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the finance minister told parliament Monday.

Finance Minister Kaspar Villiger said the accounts belonged to people associated with Milosevic, not to the president himself. The finance minister did not elaborate or say how much money was involved.

Last December, a Swiss official said a ``not insignificant sum″ in the millions of dollars in Yugoslav and Serb government assets had been frozen in Switzerland following the imposition of sanctions earlier in the year.

But Othmar Wyss, head of the Swiss government’s export control and sanctions department, declined to give the exact amount of the blocked assets or say how many accounts were involved.

Wyss said at the time that the assets _ linked to the Yugoslav or Serbian governments, companies controlled by them or people connected to them _ were blocked after neutral Switzerland agreed to go along with European Union sanctions against Yugoslavia.

In June 1999, the Swiss agreed to freeze any assets belonging to Milosevic and four other leaders indicted for war crimes _ Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, Yugoslav Vice Premier Nikola Sainovic, Yugoslav Chief-of-Staff Dragoljub Ojdanic and Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic.

The EU list has since been expanded to about 300 names, including all government ministers, army leaders and the administration as well as the family of Milosevic.

Villiger said the Swiss Cabinet would examine the situation following Yugoslavia’s disputed Sept. 24 presidential election before deciding whether to take further steps.

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