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Swiss prosecutors launch money-laundering probe against Ukraine's Yanukovych, son

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GENEVA - Authorities in Switzerland announced Friday they have launched a corruption probe against Ukraine's fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych and his son Aleksander, and blocked all the potential assets that might be hidden in the Alpine nation.

The Geneva prosecutors' office said in a statement that the criminal investigation concerned "aggravated money laundering."

"Chief prosecutor Yves Bertossa and members of the financial police conducted a search in the morning of Feb. 27 at the premises of a company owned by Aleksander Yanukovych," prosecutors said. Documents were seized, but the prosecutor said no further details of the investigation would be provided.

Separately, the nation's governing Federal Council, which includes the president and six other ministers, said Friday it has decided to block all assets Yanukovych and his entourage might have in Switzerland, effective immediately.

Through the action, the Council said in a statement that it "wishes to avoid any risk of misappropriation of Ukrainian state assets."

Switzerland has been at pains to prevent foreign leaders from using the country's secretive banks as places to hide and launder ill-gotten funds.

In recent years the Alpine nation has frozen accounts linked to former members of the deposed governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

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