December 18, 2017 / 3:46 PM / in a month

Swiss repatriate 40 million euros in frozen funds to Italy

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland has returned to Italy 40 million euros ($47 million) in funds frozen during high-profile criminal investigations in its southern neighbor, Swiss justice officials said on Monday.

Thirty million was linked to steelmaker Ilva in a case in which Milan prosecutors had sought legal assistance while they probed the Riva family and others for embezzlement and other property offences, the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said.

The FOJ supported Italy in the probe by providing evidence and blocking assets in the Italian-speaking southern canton of Ticino. It transferred the frozen money last month based on a judicial confiscation order from Italy.

Other funds worth more than 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.01 billion) allegedly looted from Ilva had been frozen in the canton of Zurich, but Italy dropped a request for legal assistance blocking the money, allowing it to be returned to Italy in May for use in a settlement struck a year ago between the Riva family, Ilva, and others, the FOJ said.

Ilva was placed under court administration in 2013 after magistrates seized 8.1 billion euros of assets belonging to its former owners, the Riva family, amid allegations that toxic emissions were causing abnormally high rates of cancer.

An administrators’ statement about the settlement in December 2016 said it was expected that Ilva would waive all claims against the Riva family, putting an end to the dispute.

The other repatriation case centered on 10 million euros in assets frozen during the Italian investigation of accounting fraud, embezzlement and other offences linked to food group Parmalat. That money was sent back this month, the FOJ said.

More than 10 million euros in assets remain frozen in that case and might also be returned, it added.

Parmalat collapsed at the end of 2003 with a 14 billion euro hole in its accounts, following a scandal that forced management to seek bankruptcy protection and triggered a criminal fraud probe. A streamlined version of the dairy group relisted in 2005.

Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Alison Williams

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