Swiss Probe Yanukovych for Money Laundering, Raid Son’s Company

Swiss prosecutors opened a probe into deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr for alleged money laundering.

The Geneva prosecutor began an investigation for “aggravated money laundering” and raided a company registered to Oleksandr Yanukovych yesterday, it said in a e-mailed statement today. While the company is registered to Oleksandr, both men “are formally linked to the company,” Henri Della Casa, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said by phone from Geneva.

European countries are clamping down on the former Ukrainian leadership’s assets after the installation of a new government led by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The premier told lawmakers in Kiev that the Yanukovych regime had moved $70 billion into off-shore accounts, leaving state coffers “empty and robbed.”

Accounts at Austrian banks were frozen at the request of the Ukrainian government, the Foreign Ministry in Vienna said today, saying the action was “precautionary” and unilateral.

Neighboring Switzerland issued a decree freezing “all assets Viktor Yanukovych and his entourage might have in Switzerland.” The measure, which aims to “avoid any risk of misappropriation of Ukrainian state assets,” also prohibits the sale or disposal of property.

The prosecutor said it seized documents during the raid at the company, which it didn’t identify. Mako Trading SA is owned by Oleksandr, according to a January 2013 interview with Mako Chairman Felix Blitshteyn. The Swiss company register, which lists Blitshteyn without mentioning Oleksandr, doesn’t provide a telephone number for Mako Trading.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zoe Schneeweiss in Zurich at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net; Jan-Henrik Foerster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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