The new Iranian government has asked Switzerland to freeze Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's assets here, the Foreign Ministry announced today.
The brief Iranian government communication did not say how much of the shah's wealth is in Switzerland. U.S. bankers have said, however, that he and his family transferred millions of dollars out of Iran in the final months of his rule.
The royal family owns a ski villa near the Swiss resort of St. Moritz. But the Iranian government has asked the Swiss to refuse exile to the deposed monarch, and he was discouraged from coming here on his departure from Iran.
The shah currently is in Rabat, Morocco, as a guest of King Hassan II. He was reported today to be suffering from a cold.
Swiss authorities made no immediate reply to the Iranian request. If they follow past practice, they are unlikely to grant the freeze, or even divulge any details of the shah's or his associates' holdings here.
Accounts in Swiss banks, registered under numbers instead of names, keep a client's identity secret from outsiders. It is a criminal offense to disclose information about the accounts, except in a criminal proceeding when a magistrate's order has been issued.
The bank can then give information to the magistrate or police, but not to outside parties.
A statement issued here by an Iranian professor charged that the shah, members of his family and associates transferred a total of $21 billion out of Iran before fleeing into exile.
The statement was attributed to the new Iranian justice minister, Assadollah Mobacheri, with whom the professor said he had communicated by telephone. The Iranian Embassy in Switzerland confirmed that the professor was a longtime associate of Mobacheri, but the statement could not be confirmed immediately in Tehran.
It said that in the months before he was toppled, the shah transferred $15 billion. Family members and unidentified associates transferred another $6 billion, it added.
The new revolutionary government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini will "soon undertake legal steps aimed at repatriation of all Iranian national wealth that has been transferred abroad," the statement said. It promised to produce evidence to back up accusations of crime and theft by the shah and "accomplices."
This seemed to be an attempt to lay groundwork for a claim that criminal acts were involved, bringing into play the Swiss legislation that permits financial disclosures in criminal proceedings.