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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Firms Oppose Swiss Giving Russia Files




GENEVA -- Two Swiss firms caught up in a money-laundering probe involving Russian state airline Aeroflot said Friday they had asked Switzerland's highest court to block the transfer of documents to Russian prosecutors.


Financial companies Forus Services SA and Andava SA, both based in Lausanne, issued separate statements arguing that handing over some 80,000 pages of seized documents to Moscow would breach their commercial secrets.


Both again denied any wrongdoing, as has Aeroflot. No criminal proceedings have been launched against either company in the high-profile case.


Russian and Swiss authorities have been cooperating since May to check whether hard-currency revenues were misappropriated from Aeroflot Russian International Airlines.


Russian investigators believe $600 million of hard currency was diverted from Aeroflot and laundered through Swiss banks. Swiss authorities have confirmed they have frozen bank accounts in connection with the case, but have not revealed details.


The Swiss Federal Tribunal is to rule soon on the companies' appeals lodged two weeks ago against the Swiss prosecutor's decision in late December to send more documents to Russia.


Forus Services issued what it said was a summary of a report written by its auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PWC, which conducted a four-week investigation of files seized from Forus' office by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor last July.


"The conclusions of the PWC report are clear: Forus never misappropriated any ARIA funds and all funds flows between Forus and ARIA are matched to the last dollar," Forus said.


The summary page, bearing a PWC letterhead, said the audit had "found no substantive evidence whatsoever to maintain that Forus has misappropriated $200 million from ARIA, as alleged.


"Furthermore, based upon this work, we have seen no evidence to suggest that the bank accounts of Forus, including those frozen by the Swiss authorities, contain any funds which are the property of ARIA," the auditors added.


Forus filed a complaint against the Swiss Federal Prosecutor in September for allegedly violating official secrecy and sending commercial secrets abroad.