Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

EU to freeze assets of top Libyan firms

  • Anti-Gaddafi opposition fighter (Photo: Nasser Nouri)

EU diplomats are close to finalising a list of Libyan companies to be added to a recent asset freeze and travel ban on 26 members of the Gaddafi regime.

A diplomatic contact said the multi-billion-euro Libyan Investment Authority is "very likely" to be included, along with "an investment bank" and around three other firms.

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Details are being held back to prevent money being smuggled out before the measures enter into life.

France, Germany and the UK are leading the new initiative.

The sanctions are to be adopted informally at around 10am Brussels time on Tuesday (8 March), unless Italy or Malta - the two EU countries closest to Libya - raise last-minute objections.

The Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Central Bank hold stakes in prominent Italian companies, including: 7.6 percent of Italy's largest bank, UniCredit; 7.5 Percent of the Juventus football club; 2 percent of arms firm Finmeccanica; part of car-maker Fiat; part of energy giant Eni; and part of Telecom Italia.

EU ministers meeting at a competitiveness council in Brussels on Thursday are likely to rubber-stamp the measures ahead of an emergency summit on Libya the next day.

"We're looking at targeting assets that are clearly linked to those people already identified [on the list of 26 names] as perpetrators of human rights abuses," another diplomatic source said.

For his part, Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday gave a clear indication that Western powers are considering military intervention if the civilian death toll climbs.

"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.

He added: "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 began.

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