Switzerland freezing any Gaddafi assets

Libya`s Foreign Ministry denied Gaddafi holds banks accounts in Switzerland.

Last Updated: Feb 25, 2011, 12:36 PM IST

Zurich: Switzerland said on Thursday it was freezing any assets Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family might have in the country, prompting a strong reaction from Tripoli that demanded evidence be produced.

"The Federal Council strongly condemns the use of violence of the Libyan leader against the people," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Given the developments, the Federal Council has decided to freeze any possible assets of Muammar Gaddafi."

A spokesman for the Swiss Foreign Ministry said it was not clear if Gaddafi and parties close to him actually did have assets in Switzerland. This would be announced in the coming weeks.

Libya`s Foreign Ministry denied Gaddafi holds banks accounts in Switzerland or in any other bank around the world.

"We demand that ... Switzerland proves that the brother leader has funds or bank accounts in its banks or in any other banks around the world," the ministry said in a statement.

"The Foreign Ministry will take all the legal procedures to sue the Swiss government for this unfounded statement."

The Libyan ministry said the Swiss statement showed "the degree of its animosity towards Libya and its leader".

Relations between Switzerland and Libya soured in 2008 when Geneva police arrested a son of Gaddafi on charges -- later dropped -- of abusing two domestic employees.

Libya withdrew millions of dollars from Swiss banks, halted oil exports to Switzerland and barred two Swiss businessmen working in Libya from leaving the country.

In recent years, Switzerland has worked hard to improve its image as a haven for ill-gotten assets.

It has also frozen assets that may belong to Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down as president of Egypt as well as those belonging to Tunisia`s former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, ousted by popular protests, and Ivory Coast`s Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down after an election which the outside world says he lost.

Bureau Report