GENEVA — A Swiss businessman has handed over to judicial authorities $10 million destined for Nicaraguan contras that was mistakenly deposited in his account, a Geneva investigating judge said today.
Judge Vladimir Stemberger said he believed that the unidentified 60-year-old businessman had acted in good faith in not questioning the deposit because he often handled large amounts of money.
Stemberger said the man apparently did not notice that the money, a donation by the oil-rich Sultan of Brunei destined for U.S.-backed rebels fighting the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua, was a mistaken transfer.
But determining the money's rightful owner--the sultan, the United States or another party--will be a major problem, Stemberger said.
A spokesman for Credit Suisse, the bank at which the transaction took place, confirmed earlier today that the bank has filed a criminal suit against the businessman for withdrawing the $10 million and placing it in a certificate of deposit that has drawn $253,000 in interest in another bank.
Stemberger did not address the issue of who will receive the interest money. The certificate of deposit reportedly matures next week.