Britain seizes £100m on Libya-bound ship: officials

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Britain has seized £100 million ($160 million, 117 million euros) of Libyan currency found on a Libya-bound ship after escorting the vessel to an English port, officials said Friday.

The ship was on its way to Britain after trying to dock at the Libyan capital Tripoli, where it decided it was too unsafe because of the unrest in the north African country, a government source told AFP.

The source declined to say where the ship had originated.

When British authorities became aware of the ship's cargo, they informed the shipping company that it could be in breach of UN sanctions on the export of money that could be used to benefit the Libyan regime, the source said.

"A vessel which had been heading to Libya returned to the UK on Wednesday morning. The ship was escorted into the port of Harwich by the UK Border Agency cutter HMC Vigilant," a Home Office spokesman said in a statement.

"A number of containers were offloaded from the boat and have been taken under control of the UK Border Agency and have been moved to a secure location.

"The cargo is understood to contain a significant quantity of Libyan currency, which is subject to a UN sanction."

The spokesman confirmed media reports that the money was worth £100 million, while the source said it was a mixture of bank notes and coins.

The UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously ordered a travel and assets ban on Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime following the uprising in the north African country.

On Sunday, Britain also froze Kadhafi's assets in the country. The Daily Telegraph reported that the liquid assets amount to about £20 billion.

© 2011 AFP

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