December 23, 2011 / 8:56 AM / 6 years ago

Swiss freeze $53 mln in Syrian funds

ZURICH, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Switzerland has frozen 50 million Swiss francs ($53 million) of funds belonging to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other top officials, a government spokeswoman said on Friday.

Money belonging to 12 companies and 54 individuals had been targeted. In addition to the Syrian president, top military commander Mahir Assad and Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Sha‘ar were also on the list, the spokeswoman of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economics said.

Switzerland in May expanded its sanctions against Syria to include Assad and other senior officials, raising pressure on his government to end a crackdown on protesters.

Switzerland has worked hard in recent years to improve its image as a haven for ill-gotten gains, seizing the assets of numerous deposed dictators and agreeing in 2009 to soften strict bank secrecy to help other countries catch tax cheats.

It has blocked assets of the former Tunisian and Egyptian leaders and their entourages as well as those of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family.

$1 = 0.9362 Swiss francs Reporting by Catherine Bosley

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