ZURICH, March 15 Switzerland's prosecutor has
been alerted by police of suspected money-laundering and bribery
in connection with ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich
but has not launched a formal investigation, the authority's
spokeswoman said on Saturday.
The prosecutor said it was notified of the allegations
against Yanukovich and members of his entourage by an arm of the
Swiss federal police tasked with liaising with Swiss banks in
cases of suspected money-laundering.
Ukraine's pro-Moscow Yanukovich was toppled on Feb. 22 amid
street protests in Kiev over his decision to ditch a trade deal
with Europe in favour of economic ties with former Soviet
overlord Russia. Following his fall he fled to Russia where he
has made several media appearances, most recently last week.
"The notification of suspected money-laundering is in
connection with potential corruption practices, in which Viktor
Yanukovich and people close to him may appear," a spokeswoman
for the prosecutor said.
This does not mean the prosecutor has opened a formal
investigation into Yanukovich or people close to him, she said.
The move follows a Swiss-ordered freeze last month, since
widened to include more nine more people, on any funds in Swiss
banks found to be linked to Yanukovich, who is suspected of
human rights abuses and misuse of state funds.
It is not known how much money Ukrainian politicians, their
families, or other people close to them hold in Switzerland, nor
how much has been frozen by banks since the Swiss order to do
Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, has said
Yanukovich embezzled as much as $37 billion during three years
The European Union, Britain, Switzerland and others have
already frozen assets of Ukrainians suspected of
misappropriating state funds, after Yanukovich
was toppled following months of demonstrations against a
decision to spurn a free trade deal with the EU for closer ties
Yanokovich's elder son, Oleksander, owns Mako Group, a
Ukrainian conglomerate with a Swiss arm that was raided by
Geneva prosecutors last month.
(Reporting By Katharina Bart; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)