Banca del Gottardo has confirmed itself as Plaintiff in the penal proceedings initiated by the Public Prosecutor of Canton Ticino, Switzerland against persons unknown on the grounds of falsification of documents, and has itself also filed a penal complaint for the same crime and for harm to the bank’s reputation.

This relates to an article published by “The Sunday Times” on 13th April 2003, and later picked up by some Swiss and foreign newspapers, which claimed that bank accounts related to the Iraqi regime had supposedly been opened at Banca del Gottardo through which, in recent years, banking operations involving millions would have been made.

A release from the bank, with head offices in Lugano, Switzerland, says *”Based on in-depth investigations of the alleged incriminating documents, some of them in the hands of the Public Prosecutor and some others presented to the bank by other sources, the falsity of these documents can undoubtedly be confirmed.”*

Independent of the penal proceedings initiated by the Swiss Judiciary as a matter of regular procedure, Banca del Gottardo itself has filed a complaint. It says it has done so in order that those responsible for such serious acts, harmful to the bank’s name, may be identified and sanctioned – and so that similar unlawful deeds may be prevented in the future.

The Bank issued a media release last week “No Account of the Iraqi Regime at Banca del Gottardo”. (see below). The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Canton, Ticino also has issued a communiqué in this connection. (link below)

Banca del Gottardo has a presence in Switzerland, Europe and internationally in Nassau (Bahamas), through a network of branches and subsidiaries close to the major financial centres.

**Media Release (April 14)**

**No Account of the Iraqi Regime at Banca del Gottardo**

Banca del Gottardo categorically denies the information contained in a “scoop” by “The Sunday Times” about supposed relations between the Bank and Saddam Hussein, specifically with members of his regime.

Banca del Gottardo has duly followed the requests of the Swiss Federal Council (the most recent dated 9 April 2003: Modification of the Ordinance on Economic Measures against the Republic of Iraq, issued by the Federal Banking Commission), as well as the attendant international appeals (Bush lists), evidencing the fact that the Bank had and has no link to report.

In-depth internal enquiries, dating back to 1990, have confirmed the non-existence of any kind of relationship with the Iraqi regime. To date, two accounts exist at the Bank, with modest sums, which may be traced to Iraqi citizens. One of them is a salary account held by an Iraqi worker resident in Switzerland.

Banca del Gottado strongly rejects any claim of any relationship with members of the Iraqi regime and is dismayed by the speculations of “The Sunday Times” about the Bank’s role in connection with Iraqi funds.

*(Issued by Franco Rogantini, Media Office, Banca del Gottardo, Lugano)*