The Address | Benghazi – Libya
BRUSSELS – Prosecutors are investigating whether Belgian banks paid out interest and dividends on accounts frozen under U.N. sanctions in 2011 as the Libyan state under Muammar Gaddafi collapsed, public broadcaster RTBF said on Monday.
RTBF said that when the United Nations agreed to freeze deposits held by Gaddafi’s administration abroad, Belgium had done so but had not halted payments of interest and dividends.
RTBF reported that up to 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) could have been disbursed to people controlling Libyan accounts, including militia groups in the country accused of human rights abuses.
The Belgian broadcaster quoted a source as saying that planes bound for Libya were stopped on the tarmac of Ostend airport loaded with weapons.
In Belgium, Libyan assets are in four institutions (BNP Paribas Fortis, ING, KBC and Euroclear Bank) for a total amount of 14.088 billion euros. However they were frozen by order of the United Nations Security Council at the end of 2011.
In September, a U.N. panel of experts on Libya said that Belgium is in violation of international sanctions targeting Libyan assets.
Member of the Belgian House of Representatives, Ahmed Laaouej, said, regarding the alleged abuse of assets, “these are huge amounts that would have financed the activities of the armed factions” and he demanded that Belgium’s Minister of Finance, Johan Van Overtveldt, “stop this very bad game of hide-and-seek and come and explain. This money has been released in violation of international rules.”