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 Words in the News
  BBC Correspondent Clare Doole reported on Dino Bellasi, who is at the centre of the biggest spy scandal ever to occur in Switzerland.
  AudioListen to the report in full
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2nd September 1999

Swiss spy

NEWS 1  The Bellasi affair, as it’s become known, could have come straight from the pages of a spy novel. Dino Bellasi, a Swiss secret service member with a taste for the high life, was arrested in mid-August for embezzling nearly six million dollars from the Defence Ministry. He explained his jet-set lifestyle, which included houses in Switzerland and Austria, by saying they were a cover for a top secret mission - equipping and training an army independent of the Government. His allegation that he was acting on orders from on high rocked the military establishment.

a taste for the high life: a liking for an exciting and luxurious lifestyle

embezzling: stealing money from your employers

jet-set : suggests the luxurious lifestyle of rich and successful people

a cover for : if something acts as a cover for something else then it prevents people from seeing what's actually happening

orders from on high: orders from your superiors

NEWS 2   But according to the Swiss federal prosecutor, Bellasi's allegations are totally unfounded, a fantasy he dreamt up to save his own skin. They have, however, exposed serious shortcomings in the Swiss intelligence service. The question remains - how he got away with making false claims for fictitious army exercises for so long. His fraud went unchecked even after he had left the service last November on health grounds.

unfounded: not based on facts or evidence

to save his own skin: to act in order to protect himself

false claims: claims with no factual basis

fictitious army exercises: exercises that did not exist

   Read about the background in BBC News Online

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