Duvalier return tied to Swiss bank funds

Jan. 21, 2011 at 10:36 AM   |   Comments

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Jean-Claude Duvalier's stunning return to Haiti may have been motivated by money, not power, officials say.

A Swiss law goes into effect Feb. 1 that makes it easier for countries to recover dictators' ill-gotten wealth from banks. Duvalier is fighting to get $6 million in a frozen account, The New York Times reports.

Haitian officials have said they believe "Baby Doc," who ruled from 1971 to 1986, came back solely to evade the new law. Currently, countries claiming money in Switzerland must show they have begun a criminal investigation. If Duvalier could have sneaked into Haiti and then left, as he had planned, he might have argued that his homeland no longer wanted to prosecute him, and he should get the millions.

He is believed to have looted $300 million but squandered it on luxurious living in France and a very costly divorce.

"He gambled because his money is low and his health is failing, so what did he have to lose?" asked an analyst close to the Haitian government.

The ploy backfired when Duvalier was arrested and charged with corruption and embezzlement.

He was ordered not to leave the country and victims of his regime then filed suits for torture.

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