Swiss Court Approves U.S. Request for Bank Records of Alleged Terror Financiers

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Swiss authorities will provide the United States with details from bank accounts U.S. investigators suspect of being used for terrorist funding, a Justice Ministry official said Wednesday.

Ministry spokesman Folco Galli said the documents will be handed over this month now that Switzerland's highest court has approved the transfer.

In the ruling disclosed Wednesday, the Federal Tribunal approved the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, which had been pending since 2002 as part of an investigation into money laundering and support of terrorist activities.

The U.S. prosecutor requested the account information as part of an investigation into some 100 charitable organizations "which are providing by means of complex financial transactions support to terrorist operations," the ruling said.

The United States suspects the organizations of having "links to Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Palestinian Jihad," said the ruling, handed down July 4 but kept secret until the court released it Wednesday.

None of the individuals involved in the U.S. investigation were identified.

The U.S. said more than $26 million was transferred to "entities" in the British Isle of Man owning bank accounts in Switzerland. The money was then given to the charitable organizations, the court said.

There was no indication in the court document that the transfer was linked to the attacks on the United States the following month — on Sept. 11, 2001.