Switzerland plans to hand over Libyan assets
Switzerland will release millions of francs worth of frozen Libyan assets as soon as the United Nations lifts sanctions that were imposed on Muammar Qaddafi’s government, a Swiss official said on Tuesday.
Qaddafi’s four decades of absolute power seemed to be over on Tuesday as rebels gained a further foothold after entering Tripoli on Sunday amid clashes with pro-government forces.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss finance ministry said the value of Libyan assets in Switzerland was some 650 million francs ($827 million).
“The vast majority of the frozen assets belong to state-owned companies and not to individuals. If these are removed from the UN sanctions list, the money will once again be available to them”, said Roland Vock, head of SECO's sanctions office, in a statement.
“But we cannot unfreeze unilaterally the assets of the Central Bank of Libya or any other state-owned enterprise,” Vock added.
In 2008, following a diplomatic dispute between Switzerland and Libya when Qaddafi’s son was arrested on charges of abusing two domestic employees, Libya withdrew more than $5 billion from Swiss banks.
Amid unrest in the Arab world, Switzerland has blocked more than 1.2 billion francs in assets so far this year, according to ATS.
The figure includes some 650 million francs linked to the Qaddafi regime, 410 billion francs linked to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his entourage, as well as 60 million francs belonging to former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo's regime.
In July 2011, Switzerland blocked 27 million francs ($31.8 million) worth of assets linked to the Syrian regime, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said.