EU To Freeze Assets of Libyan firms

EU diplomats are close to finalising a list of Libyan companies to be added to a recent asset freeze and travel ban related to 26 members of the Gaddafi regime. A diplomatic contact says the multi-billion-euro Libyan Investment Authority is  very likely to be included, along with an investment bank and  three other major firms.

“We’re looking at targeting assets that are clearly linked to those people already identified as perpetrators of human rights abuses.”

EU diplomat

The details are yet being held back to prevent money being smuggled out before the measures are in place. France, Germany and the UK are leading the new initiative.

The sanctions are to be adopted informally at around 10 am Brussels time on Tuesday, unless Italy or Malta – the two EU countries closest to Libya – raise last-minute objections. the EUobserver.com reports.

The Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Central Bank hold stakes in prominent Italian companies.

The Libyan Central Bank is the second largest shareholder Italy’s largest bank, UniCredit with about 7 percent of the shares.

In addition, Gaddafi and his companions owes 7.5 percent of the Juventus football club, 2 percent of arms firm Finmeccanica, amajor part of car-maker Fiat, a part of Italian energy giant Eni and a stake in Telecom Italia.

The EU ministers meeting at the competitiveness council in Brussels on Thursday are likely to stamp the measures as an emergency summit on Libya in the EU capital the next day.

“We’re looking at targeting assets that are clearly linked to those people already identified as perpetrators of human rights abuses,” another diplomatic source says.

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen indicated on Monday that Western powers are considering military intervention if the civilian death toll continues to mount.

“If Gaddafi and his military continue to attack the Libyan population systematically, I can’t imagine the international community and UN standing idly by,” he told a press conference in Brussels.

Adding: “I assume that any Nato operation would take place in accordance with, and pursuant to, a UN mandate, and I take note of the fact that the current UN mandate doesn’t authorise the use of armed force.”

Nato defence ministers are to meet in the EU capital on Thursday and Friday in an event scheduled before the Libya conflict broke out.

US President Barack Obama have also indicated today that a military action against Libya is not to be ruled out.

Well, I guess this is the opportunity many Western politicians and generals have been waiting for.

Payback time!

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