Last Updated: Mon Jun 20, 2011 16:29 pm (KSA) 13:29 pm (GMT)

UAE central bank orders freeze of Libyan assets

The UAE central bank has now instructed the country’s Gulf banks to “initiate a search” into the funds of unnamed Libyans. (Illustration By Amarjit Sidhu)
The UAE central bank has now instructed the country’s Gulf banks to “initiate a search” into the funds of unnamed Libyans. (Illustration By Amarjit Sidhu)

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates has ordered the freeze on assets belonging to 19 Libyan individuals and institutions and expects to prepare a report on the decision within a week, an official said on Monday.

In the latest string of orders against suspicious funds belonging to individuals from ousted Middle East governments, the central bank has now instructed the country’s Gulf banks to “initiate a search” into the funds of unnamed Libyans, according to Reuters.

“We have instructed banks to initiate a search and have requested them to freeze the assets,” Abdulrahim Al Awadi, executive director at the UAE central bank’s anti-money laundering and suspicious cases unit, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi.

“We are expecting within the next week or so to complete the report for submission to the ministry of foreign affairs,” he added.

The UAE has already frozen the assets of the Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his close associates. Libya is still facing ongoing civil unrest where rebels are demanding an end to Mr. Qaddafi’s 41-year rule.

On Sunday the central bank revealed that it is to implement stricter money declaration rules in an effort to improve monitoring of suspicious cash flows.

The UAE is considered one of the region’s “safe havens,” particularly during the political unrest that swept countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Analysts said that Dubai attracted heavy investment inflows from the affected countries when the unrest peaked earlier this year.

In March, anti-corruption groups asked UAE authorities to take action over possible transfer of assets by ousted Egyptian and Tunisian rulers and their loyalists,

The UAE central bank earlier this month ordered a freeze on assets belonging to ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali whose trial on corruption charges began in Tunis on Monday.

The bank also launched a probe in April into the accounts, investments or deposits belonging to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

(Eman El-Shenawi, a writer at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: eman.elshenawi@mbc.net.)

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