U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday the recovery of stolen assets from Arab Spring countries is “needed to help stabilize economies and create jobs and growth” across the affected Middle Eastern countries.
The president was broadcasting a message to the Emir of Qatar, President of Tunisia and the other delegations, including the United States, attending the first Arab forum on asset recovery, held in the Qatari capital of Doha.
“We called for this Forum—to make sure we’re working together to recover stolen assets that must be returned to the people of countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya,” Obama said.
“This money—potentially billions of dollars — does not belong to those who wielded power; it belongs to the people.
“Now, it’s needed to help stabilize economies and create jobs and growth. It’s needed to help advance transitions to democracy. It’s needed to help answer the aspirations for opportunity and dignity that are at the root of this Arab Spring,” the president added.
Obama also said he has made it a part of “U.S. policy to support reform across the region and assist transitions to democracy,” adding that such support includes “economic reforms that create jobs and opportunity, boost trade and entrepreneurship, and combat corruption so people can live in dignity.”
Earlier this year, Switzerland introduced sanctions on Syria last year to try to pressure the government to end a crackdown on its opponents, saying in December it had frozen 50 million francs of assets belonging to President Bashar al-Assad and other officials.
Questionable asset flows identified by Swiss authorities reached a record high of more than 3 billion Swiss francs in 2011, lifted in part by wealthy North Africans who sought to move assets into the country as the Arab Spring raged.