Libya given $20 billion of freed assets
TRIPOLI - Libya has received roughly $20 billion in assets that were held overseas by Moamer Gathafi's regime and frozen during the conflict that ousted him, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday.
An estimated $150 billion (117 billion euro) of Gathafi's overseas assets were frozen following United Nations Security Council sanctions against his regime during the popular uprising and civil war that led to the veteran dictator's downfall.
On Tuesday, Libyan Foreign Minister Ashur bin Khayyal said most of the $20 billion received so far by the country's new government came from United States, France and other European states.
"I don't have the exact figure, but I know that the first tranche is approximately $20 billion," Khayyal told reporters at an event focused on the future of the UN's mission in Libya.
When asked by AFP if Libya had received these funds, Khayyal said: "Yes, it has been received", but there has not yet been independent verification as to whether the money has been deposited with the Central Bank of Libya.
In December, the Security Council lifted sanctions on Libya's central bank and a key investment bank, freeing tens of billions of dollars to ease a post-Gathafi cash crunch in the North African country.
Shortly after the sanctions were lifted, the US said it would unblock more than $30 billion of assets held by the Central Bank of Libya and its subsidiary, the Libyan Foreign Bank.
Britain pledged to release around 6.5 billion pounds ($10 billion).
Libya's new rulers, confronted with a challenging economic climate, have stepped up calls for the assets to be released so they can pay salaries and fund key public services.
The UN Support Mission in Libya signed a status of mission agreement with Libya on Tuesday, paving the way for the world body to continue assisting the war-ravaged country during its current transitional period.