Swiss banks are reportedly holding almost $1 billion in assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the former presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.
According to Swiss the Associated Press president and foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, speaking in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, said the assets include $416 million that may belong to Gaddafi or his entourage, while $474 million had been linked to the former Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, and $69 million to Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,
Switzerland, long considered a haven for stolen assets of autocrats, has worked to combat that reputation and last year passed an aggressive new law to give the government power to seize and repatriate stolen assets.
This year, the Swiss government has moved quickly to freeze assets, Calmy-Rey wrote in an Op-Ed piece published in European newspapers. She said that five days after the revolt in Tunisia toppled Ben Ali, officials ordered banks to freeze assets of Ben Ali and his family.
Thirty minutes after Mubarak announced he was stepping down, Swiss authorities froze his assets. And when forces loyal to Gaddafi started bombing his own people, the Swiss ordered institutions to block all Libyan money,
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