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Swiss authorities indict Tamil Tiger supporters

Switzerland’s Attorney General has indicted 13 people associated with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), for providing financial support to the organisation via a sophisticated microcredit system.

The 13 accused, who are from Switzerland, Germany and Sri Lanka, have been charged with supporting or being members of a criminal organisation, fraud, false certification and money laundering.

As the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland announced today, the LTTE was acting through a Swiss offshoot known as the World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC).

During the civil war in Sri Lanka, the LTTE’s financial needs increased considerably. According to the Attorney General’s office, LTTE leaders in Switzerland “devised and implemented a systematic and rapid method for obtaining money from the Tamil diaspora in Switzerland”. They reportedly raised around CHF15 million ($15.2 million).

“The LTTE remained an anonymous participant in the process by acting through the WTCC,” pointed out the Attorney General’s office. “The mechanism for providing financial support to the LTTE essentially involved inducing members of the Tamil diaspora in Switzerland, who apparently had no links with each other, to enter into microcredit contracts in their own names but in a fiduciary capacity, and then to pass on the funds to the WTCC.”

A Swiss bank in canton Zurich provided microcredits of up to CHF100,000. In order to obtain the microcredits, two financial intermediaries prepared forged salary statements. Couriers carried cash to Singapore and Dubai. Each month, up to CHF1 million flowed abroad and was used to buy weapons.

“The LTTE’s funding system collapsed in 2009, following the organisation’s military defeat, and the diaspora community stopped making the loan payments,” explained the attorney general’s office.

At the main hearing before the Federal Criminal Court, the attorney general’s office will submit its proposals for the penalties to be imposed on the 13 accused. By filing the indictment, the court will be responsible for providing further information.