BERN, Sunday - Switzerland has blocked several bank accounts as part of an international probe into the plunder of natural resources from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an official said Saturday.
The accounts tied to trade in coltan, a mineral used in making mobile phones, were frozen following a request by Brussels, a spokesman for Switzerlandâ€™s public economy ministry said, without giving details.
The Swiss newspaper, Le Temps has reported that 13 million dollars were frozen in the accounts, citing Belgian prosecutors.
The owners of the accounts have been named in a UN report on the plunder of natural resources in the war-torn central African nation for having used the trade of coltan to fund the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) rebel movement, the Brussels newspaper, Le Soir, reported.
The newspaper added that two top RCD officials, former RCD-Goma president Emile Ilunga, met justice minister Moise Niarugabo, met a Belgian judge on Thursday in an attempt to get their bank accounts in Belgium and Switzerland unfrozen.
They told Belgian judge Michel Claise that the funds from the trade of coltan, gold and diamonds were legitimate, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutorâ€™s office told Le Soir.