Switzerland's legal representative to the United States said today that, if the United States made a treaty request for documents it says it needs to further prosecute commodities broker Mark Rich, they could be supplied within weeks.
But Lawrence Pedowitz, chief of the criminal division of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office, who met with Swiss officials in Berne last month, told a federal judge today that a request filed with the Swiss government could "tie us up for months, if not years," because third parties who might be mentioned in Rich & Co. documents could sue in Switzerland to prevent their release.
A grand jury indicted Rich and Marc Rich & Co. AG Monday on charges of evading $48 million in taxes and using sham transactions to transfer profits from Rich's U.S. subsidiary to the parent Swiss company.
Juerg Leutert, the Swiss representative, said it is unlikely that Rich & Co. would fight a U.S. request for the documents--the company late last month agreed to supply the documents subpoenaed by the grand jury--and that a plan could be worked out for deletion of third-party names.
Leutert, while complaining about the U.S. attempt to apply its laws in Switzerland, said the Swiss government wants to cooperate.
The federal grand jury that indicted Rich has material produced by the Swiss company's U.S. subsidiary, but presumably also needs the parent company's documents
Rich and his long-time associate, Pincus Green, are in Switzerland at the company's headquarters in Zug, a hamlet near Zurich. The United States will seek to have them extradited.
Leutert said it was unclear whether Rich and Green are extraditable under Swiss laws.
Marc Rich & Co., which is estimated to have revenues of between $10 billion and $15 billion a year, yesterday issued a statement in Zug that said it is innocent of the tax evasion charges.
The company said it will continue to pay a $50,000-a-day fine levied on June 29 by Federal District Judge Leonard B. Sand because the company failed to produce documents subpoenaed by the grand jury. After fighting the subpoena for a year, the Swiss company finally agreed to produce the documents last month. Days later, however, the Swiss government seized many of the documents, citing a Swiss law that barred the release of business secrets to foreign governments. But Leutert said yesterday that, because tax fraud might be involved, the Swiss may allow the United States to obtain the documents.
Yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Morris Weinberg told Sand that the "grand jury is continuing to investigate tax-evasion schemes that may involve money in equal or even greater amounts than those listed in the indictment."