David S. Cohen
On Friday evening, President Obama took decisive steps to hold the Qadhafi regime accountable for its continued use of violence against unarmed civilians and its human rights abuses and to safeguard the assets of the people of Libya.
The President issued an Executive Order freezing the assets of Muammar Qadhafi and four of his children, as well as the Government of Libya and its agencies, including the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Investment Authority – the country’s sovereign wealth fund.
Thus far, at least $30 billion in Government of Libya assets under U.S. jurisdiction have been frozen as a result of the Executive Order issued by the President. Under the International Emergency Powers Act, this is the largest amount of assets frozen under any U.S. sanctions program to date.
These U.S. efforts come alongside a series of recent actions by the international community. Late Saturday, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution (UNSCR) 1970, which froze the assets of Muammar Qadhafi and a number of his children as well as all entities owned or controlled by them. The United Kingdom on Sunday adopted complementary sanctions to implement the UN Security Council Resolution. And on Monday, the European Union announced its decision to implement UNSCR 1970 and impose an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against Qadhafi, five of his children and 20 other individuals.
We believe that substantial additional Libyan state-owned assets may be located outside the United States, particularly in Europe. We further believe that Muammar Qadhafi and other family members designated by the United Nations Security Council may continue to exercise control over Libyan state-owned assets. Accordingly, as a matter of compliance with the UN Security Council’s Resolution and as a means of preventing Qadhafi from diverting state assets towards illicit ends, we would urge global financial institutions to freeze all Government of Libya assets, including accounts held by the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Investment Authority.
These collective actions serve two very important objectives: depriving Muammar Qadhafi and his government access to these assets and simultaneously safeguarding them for the Libyan people.
We will continue to work closely with our allies in governments and the private sector to ensure that the Qadhafi regime is held accountable.
David S. Cohen is Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.