Switzerland freezes Gaddafi''s assets: ministry

K Mammen MathewBerlin, Feb 25 (PTI) The Swiss government has frozenall assets of a bellicose Muammar Gaddafi and his associateswith immediate effect to prevent misappropriation while theautocratic regime is still in office in Libya.

A government order issued last evening blocked theassets of Gaddafi and 28 other members of his clan, includinghis wife Safia al-Barrasi, his sons and his only daughterAisha as well as several relatives and leaders.

"In view of the developments, the Federal Council hasdecided to block with immediate effect any possible assets ofMuammer Gaddafi and his entourage in Switzerland," the Swissforeign ministry said in a statement.

In the past weeks, the Swiss government had frozen theassets of the ousted Tunisian President Ben Ali and EgyptianPresident Hosni Mubarek, but only after they were swept out ofoffice by the popular uprisings against their regimes.

The Swiss government has been following with greatconcern the use of force against anti-government demonstratorsby Gaddafi''s regime and the civil war-like situation, which inthe last few days claimed hundreds of lives and causedinjuries to numerous other people, the statement said.

The government condemns in sharpest terms the Libyanregime''s use of force against the country''s population tosuppress their demands for a democratic change, it said.

The statement said freezing of the Libyan assets is aprecautionary measure to protect them from the "risk ofmisappropriation" by the regime.

The government''s decision bans with immediate effectthe sale or any kind of transfer of Gaddafi assets, includingproperties, for a period of three years.

Media reports said huge assets of the Gaddafi clansare not expected in Switzerland because billions of dollars ofLibyan funds deposited in the Swiss banks were alreadytransferred in the wake of a diplomatic crisis between the twocountries following the arrest of Gaddafi''s son Hannibal inGeneva in July 2008.

According to the estimates of the Swiss NationalBank, Libyan deposits in the Swiss banks shrank from 5.7billion francs to 630 million francs as a result of thetransfer. It is still unclear how much wealth belongs to theGaddafi clan, the reports said.

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