Libya given $20bn of freed assets
Tripoli - Libya has received roughly $20bn in assets that were held overseas by Muammar Gaddafi's regime and frozen during the conflict that ousted him, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.
An estimated $150bn of overseas assets were frozen following UN Security Council sanctions against his regime during the popular uprising and civil war that led to the dictator's downfall.
On Tuesday, Libyan Foreign Minister Ashur bin Khayyal said most of the $20bn 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 $20bn," 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-Gaddafi cash crunch in the North African country.
Shortly afterwards, the US said it would unblock more than $30bn of assets held by the Central Bank of Libya and its subsidiary, the Libyan Foreign Bank.
Britain pledged to release around $10bn.
Libya's 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.
Khayyal said there was "delisting" of frozen Libyan assets happening nearly daily in some or the other country since lifting of the sanctions.
"Every day delisting is taking place," he said, adding that Germany too has agreed to free €8bn in assets.
Khayyal further added that Libya had deliberately not asked for delisting certain frozen assets as "the procedures" to unfreeze them were still not in place.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdul Aziz said that other countries working on unfreezing of blocked assets were Italy, Japan and Spain, along with France, Britain and the United States.
"It is now up to the Libyan government as to how we submit our requests" for receiving these funds, he said, acknowledging that Tripoli has received political support from foreign countries in its requests.
Ian Martin, who leads the UN efforts in Libya too said it was up to Tripoli to make requests for delisting other entities, adding that foreign countries were working on transferring funds to Libya.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) signed a status of mission agreement with Libya on Tuesday, paving the way for the world body to continue assisting the war-torn country during its current transitional period.
The agreement established the legal framework within which the mission will operate in Libya.
Martin said the UNSMIL will also assist in boosting "reconciliation" among Libyans as per Tripoli's requests.