Ver Angola

Defense

Angola and Switzerland sign agreement to speed up asset recovery

Angola and Switzerland signed Monday in Luanda a memorandum of understanding on mutual legal and judicial assistance in criminal matters, which should give "greater speed" to asset recovery actions by the Angolan state.

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The initialed memorandum translates into an "instrument of common interest", especially for "simplifying legal assistance procedures, standardizing the language of work and the possibility of direct contact instead of the mandatory use of diplomatic channels.

The document was signed on behalf of the Angolan State by the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), Hélder Pitta Grós, and on behalf of the Swiss Confederation by its ambassador to Angola, Nicolas Herbert Lang.

According to the PGR, the memorandum is the result of "careful work between the parties, motivated by the desire to strengthen relations of cooperation in the criminal field, relations, until then, maintained on the basis of friendship, reciprocity and mutual recognition between the States.

The instrument of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, referred Hélder Pitta Grós, includes a broad scope of cooperation, namely notifications of judicial acts, collection of documents and witnesses, searches, seizures and freezing of assets".

The tracking and/or identification of illicit income, spontaneous transmission of information to the effective recovery of assets also constitute other areas of the memorandum signed this Monday in Luanda.

The recovery of assets, "which has been one of the major priorities of the criminal policy of the Angolan State," noted the Angolan prosecutor, "is assumed as one of the major and important solutions reflected by the memorandum.

"This will certainly allow, with greater security and celerity, the goods and assets that are domiciled and others to return to Angola," said Pitta Grós, during the ceremony held at the Palace of Justice.

For the Attorney General, the bilateral legal instrument will be "very valuable in the criminal prosecution, which will allow for faster procedural steps to be taken in connection with the Swiss State.

And thus, he explained, "bring to the Angolan judicial authorities the essential elements to the realization of justice.

The legal document signed between the parties, he said, "marks a very important stage" in mutual relations between the states, "allowing state agreements to be signed in the near future in the areas of extradition and transfer of convicted persons.

"These are also forms of cooperation that enable the effectiveness of the personal and criminal procedural law of the state involved, the approximation of the two criminal legal systems through this diploma," said the Angolan prosecutor.

"We are convinced that we will all gain from the signing of these instruments, especially since there are relevant issues of common interest that may be overcome by the broad mutual legal and judicial assistance in criminal matters provided by this memorandum," he concluded.

The ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in Angola, Nicolas Herbert Lang, valued the instrument signed with the Angolan state, assuring that "all the money of Angolan origin, unduly deposited in Swiss accounts, will be returned.

Often, noted the Swiss diplomat, "a lot of money is at stake, even huge sums, it is money that does not belong to Switzerland.

"It is Swiss law that all money whose origin is illegal and has been proven is returned on the basis of a legal assistance procedure, this of course also applies to all money of Angolan origin improperly deposited in Swiss accounts," he noted.

The memorandum "provides a foundation for future cooperation, it will promote mutual understanding of each other's legal system and realities, we have as of today an instrument that allows discussing a case among our legal cooperation experts before drafting a request," Nicolas Herbert Lang stressed.

"Inversely, thanks to this agreement, it will be more difficult in the future to profit from corruption and other criminal acts, either in Angola or in Switzerland," he said.

The Swiss diplomat also said that his country's financial centre is still the number one in the world in wealth management and manages US$2.5 trillion of cross-border assets, which represents more than 25 percent of the world's cross-border assets under management.

Total assets under management in Switzerland, he pointed out, amount to 8.7 trillion US dollars, noting also that his country "has one of the strictest legislations to prevent financial crime".

"No other country has so far returned more illicit funds to the countries of origin, and by the way, there are no more anonymous bank accounts and the secrecy of foreign bank customers was abolished years ago," he stressed.

Nicolas Herbert Lang also reported that similar agreements like the one signed this Monday will be concluded with many other states "in the not-too-distant future."

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