Libya Residents Had $62 Billion in Overseas Banks, BIS Says

Libyan residents, some of whom are targeted by a United Nations-imposed asset freeze, had $62.1 billion deposited in overseas bank accounts at the end of September, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

Most deposits were from banks in Libya, including branches of foreign institutions, while $8.2 billion was from non-bank Libyan residents, according to quarterly banking statistics compiled by the BIS and last released on Jan. 28.

The European Union yesterday imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions including an asset freeze, and the U.S. said it has frozen $30 billion in Libyan assets in what the U.S. treasury called the largest blocking “ever.” Canada, Switzerland, the U.K. and Austria have also frozen the assets of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his entourage.

The BIS statistics are based on reports from 43 countries, including most developed nations and offshore centers such as the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles and the British Channel Islands. The figures don’t cover direct investments by Libyans in assets overseas.

Total foreign assets held by Libyans were $152.4 billion at the end of last year, according to a broader measure compiled by the International Monetary Fund. That measure includes official central bank reserves and investments owned by the Libyan Investment Authority, preliminary data from the IMF shows.

Libya Investment Authority

The Libyan Investment Authority owns stakes in Italian bank UniCredit SpA, Financial Times owner Pearson Plc and Finmeccanica SpA. Pearson today froze the stake, blocking trading in the shares and dividend payments. Pearson Chief Executive Officer Marjorie Scardino said yesterday she felt “uncomfortable with the holding.”

Qaddafi has “lost the legitimacy to govern and it is time for him to go without further violence or delay,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday after meeting with ministers from the EU and Russia in Geneva. The U.S. said refugee-aid teams were sent to Libya’s borders while American naval and air units are being repositioned in the Mediterranean.

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