Germany freezes billions in Libyan assets: ministry

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Germany has frozen "billions" in assets held by the Libyan Central Bank and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the economy ministry said Thursday, as it implemented European Union sanctions.

The sanctions, applied Wednesday, also targeted the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio and the Libyan Foreign Bank, the ministry said, adding: "The measures block billions worth of assets" without specifying the currency.

Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said: "The measures taken yesterday are a clear reaction to the developments in Libya."

"The brutal suppression of the Libyan freedom movement can no longer be financed by assets held in German banks.

"The federal German government is sending a clear signal with this move that it is firmly on the side of those in Libya who are demanding freedom, democracy and the rule of law," added Bruederle.

On Tuesday, the 27 nations of the EU decided to impose tough new sanctions on the regime of Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi, notably on the LIA, the overseas investment vehicle for Tripoli's oil revenues.

Set up in 2006, the LIA has significant holdings in Italian bank UniCredit, Italian defence and aeronautical group Finmeccanica, Juventus Football Club and Pearson, the publisher of the Financial Times, which itself froze that holding last week.

The German move comes ahead of a frantic 48-hour period of European diplomacy as countries ponder how to deal with the continuing unrest in Libya.

Foreign ministers and leaders were set to meet over consecutive days for talks that will shape the prospects for military intervention via a no-fly zone, as well as humanitarian aid and economic props.

© 2011 AFP

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