ZURICH, March 23 Switzerland's public prosecutor
has opened two formal money laundering investigations into
unnamed associates of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor
Yanukovich, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said on
Switzerland has already ordered a freeze on 29 Ukrainians'
assets, including those of Yanukovich, who is suspected of human
rights abuses and misuse of state funds.
"The state public prosecutor can only open an investigation
when there is a reasonable suspicion of possible punishable
behaviour," the spokeswoman said in the statement.
"In connection with the notification from Switzerland's
money laundering reporting office last week, this was confirmed
after a thorough analysis."
The investigations were opened on Thursday after
notifications from the federal police unit tasked with liaising
with Swiss banks in cases of suspected money laundering, she
One investigation centred on two people from Yanukovich's
entourage, she said. The public prosecutor's office did not
provide details of the second investigation.
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 measures began
to come into force at the end of February.
Pro-Russian 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
Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, has said
loans worth $37 billion went missing from state coffers during
In addition to the missing $37 billion, Yatseniuk told
parliament as much as $70 billion had been sent out of the
country during Yanukovich's three-year rule, although he did not
make clear how much of this capital flight was illegal.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Sophie Hares)