US freezes USD 30 bn in Libyan assets
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 11:40
Washington: The US government has said it had frozen at least USD 30 billion in Libyan assets, the largest amount ever blocked according to US sanctions czar David Cohen.

The US government targeted Moamer Kadhafi, four of his family members and Libyan government agencies on Friday after an uprising that has seen more than 1,000 people killed.

"As of today at least USD 30 billion in government of Libya assets under United States jurisdiction have been blocked," Cohen said yesterday.

"It is the largest blocking under any sanctions program ever."

Cohen, speaking on a conference call with reporters, said further sanctions could be on the way: "We are considering whether to add to the list of individuals."

Cohen noted that the European Union had adopted sanctions that target around 20 individuals in addition to Kadhafi and his children.

Libya and its leaders are suspected of holding billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts, cash largely gleaned from the country's vast oil wealth.

According to a 2010 message from the US embassy in Tripoli, obtained by WikiLeaks, Libya's sovereign wealth fund holds USD32 billion in cash and "several American banks are each managing USD300-500 million."

"We believe that... the central bank and the sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, are controlled by Colonel Kadhafi and his family," said Cohen.

The Treasury Department had earlier warned banks to be vigilant about transfers linked to Libya's political leaders.

Cohen said that there was no immediate evidence that the Libyan authorities had moved to shift cash out of the United States before the sanctions hit.


First Published: Tuesday, March 01, 2011, 11:40

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