First Probe Fails to Find Ceausescu Millions in Switzerland
BASEL, Switzerland (AP) _ Swiss authorities said Wednesday they found no evidence that ousted Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu stashed vast sums of cash in a Basel bank account.
A similar investigation in Geneva is pending.
The suspicion of money being stashed in secret Swiss accounts was raised by the new Romanian government that came to power after last December’s revolution in which Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed by a firing squad.
Attorney Moritz Leuenberger, a Swiss member of parliament, said he was tipped by unidentified Romanian exiles that Ceausescu had transferred about $400 million, mostly in gold bullion, to Zurich shortly before his downfall.
Swiss authorities lifted strict banking secrecy rules after the new Bucharest leadership asked them for help in its search for assets the Ceausescus allegedly spirited out of the country during their 24-year reign.
The Swiss government put a precautionary freeze Dec. 24 on any assets linked to Ceausescu and his clan that may be in Swiss banks.
District attorney Walter Rothenfluh said an investigation of bank files ″made it seem credible″ that the Basel account, opened in 1980, was used solely for regular transactions by the Romanian foreign trade ministry.
Rothenfluh declined to name the bank.