Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-87
Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier (Switzerland)
Haiti
President (1971-1986)
Switzerland
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Asset Location / Alleged Asset Location
1986
Ongoing
Art.17, Art.23
Yes
Criminal Prosecution and Forfeiture
MLAT
International Mutual Assistance on Criminal Matters (ended January 2010)
Ongoing Case
Ongoing
On Appeal
$6,556,090
Ongoing
N/A
According to a Federal Administrative Court (FAC) press release, on September 23, 2013, the FAC ruled against Mr. Duvalier and co-complainants and upheld the freezing of their assets ordered by the Federal Council in 2002. In its decision of September 24, 2013, the FAC also upheld the asset forfeiture proceedings launched by the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) on behalf of the Swiss Confederation on April 29, 2011.  The press release stated, "In its decision of 24 September 2013, the FAC confirmed that these asset forfeiture proceedings were valid because the assets in question had been obtained illicitly. Specifically, the FAC felt that Jean- Claude Duvalier and his entourage did not demonstrate that the increase in their assets had resulted from activities unrelated to their role as public officials. Moreover, the level of corruption of the Haitian state was notoriously high during the period in which they had held public office. It was therefore concluded that the conditions determining the illicit origin of the assets in question were met."  These assets have been frozen since 2002.  Both decisions may be subject to appeal before the Federal Supreme Court, but barring an appeal, the way is now clear for the restitution procedure of these seized assets to be launched (Source: Federal Administrative Court press release, "FAC confirms freezing and forfeiture of Duvalier assets", September 25, 2013; See also text of decision: "Extrait de l'arrêt de la Cour III  dans la cause Département fédéral des finances contre Fondation Brouilly, Jean-Claude Duvalier, hoirie de feue Simone Ovide Duvalier, composée de Jean-Claude Duvalier, Nicole Duvalier, Marie-Denise Duvalier et Simone Duvalier, et Michèle Benett-Duvalier C‒2528/2011 du 24 septembre 2013," BVGE 2013/40).    According to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the funds were frozen by a 2010 Federal Council decision of, which followed the January 2010  judgment by the Federal Court "which put an end to the mutual legal assistance between Haiti and Switzerland, this freezing order has avoided a return of the assets to the Duvalier family. The freezing remained in force until the entry into force of the Act on the Restitution of Illicit Asset (LRAI). This law was accepted by Parliament in the autumn session 2010 and is entered into force on 1 February 2011. The Duvalier assets have then been frozen on the basis of article 14 RIAA. The Confederation took legal action before the Federal Administrative Court to enable frozen assets to be forfeited in April 2011, further to the decision of the Federal Council to ask the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) to initiate proceedings for the forfeiture of the Duvalier funds frozen in Switzerland. (Source: Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, "Illicit assets of politically exposed persons (PEPs)," last modification March 20, 2012, at http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/topics/finec/intcr/poexp.html.) 

 

On October 4, 2014, Mr. Duvalier passed away. Prior to his death, the charges against him in Haiti had been voided on grounds of expiration of statute of limitations.  (Source: The Economist, "Obituary: Baby Doc Duvalier," October 11, 2014).  On January18, 2013, Haitian prosecutors charged Mr. Duvalier with corruption and embezzlement, and he was taken into police custody (Source:  New York Times, Jean-Cluade Duvalier, accessed at http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/jeanclaude_...)  According to an Amnesty International press release, after three failures to appear to court hearings, the latest on February 21, 2013,  the Court of Appeal had asked the Public Prosecutor to issue a warrant ordering the former president to appear before the court on February 28, 2013.  Mr. Duvalier had appeared in court on February 28, 2013 and entered a plea of not guilty. (Sources: Amnesty International press release, "Haiti: Jean-Claude Duvalier’s presence in Court brings hope to victims,"  March 1, 2013 accessed at http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/haiti-jean-claude-duvalier-s-presence-cou... NBCnews.com, "Ex-Haiti dictator 'Baby Doc' Duvalier faces corruption charges for first time since revolt," February 28, 2013, accessed at  http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/28/17136615-ex-haiti-dictator....   According to an April 2011 report by Human Rights Watch, criminal proceedings had been instituted in Haiti against Mr. Duvalier on charges of financial crimes, after he left Haiti in 1986.  These pending proceedings were reinstituted when Mr. Duvalier returned to Haiti in January 2011.  (Source:  Haiti's Rendezvous with History, "The proceedings against Duvalier," Human Rights Watch, April 14, 2011, accessed at http://www.hrw.org/en/node/97889/section/4.)
Investigating Judge (Juge d'instruction)
State Prosecutor (Commissaire du gouvernement)
Unknown
Le juge d'instruction du canton de Geneve
Office federal de la justice; Monfrini Crettol & Partners (Attorneys Enrico Monfrini and Yves Klein)
Chambre d'accusation genevoise; Tribunal federal, Federal Administration Court