Unfreezing of Libya’s assets could take six months

Delays at UN could delay rebuilding work in Libya

Releasing frozen overseas assets accumulated by the regime of Muammar Gaddafi could take six months, crippling the ability of Libya’s interim government to fund essential basic infrastructure work, a former UK ambassador to Libya tells MEED.

An estimated $100bn of overseas assets have been frozen across the globe, according to the National Transitional Council, the administrative body set up by opposition forces on 27 February. The US alone is believed to hold at least $30bn.

But releasing the assets could be complicated by political considerations. The freezing of the assets took place under the authority of the UN Security Council. The council voted on 27 February to freeze the assets of Gaddafi and four other officials. The decision was followed by moves in the US, the UK and elsewhere, to freeze the regime’s assets.

For the assets to be unfrozen, the decision may have to be approved by the Security Council. It is unclear, however, whether China and Russia, both permanent members of the Security Council, would immediately back the measure.

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Richard Nield is a freelance journalist, photographer and filmmaker covering the Middle East and Africa. In 10 years covering the region, he has been published and broadcast by clients including the BBC, Reuters, Al Jazeera, The Economist, The Financial Times, The Independent and Foreign Policy magazine. He has reported from throughout the region, including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, South Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.