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Treasury says $30 billion in Libyan assets frozen

The Treasury Department says that at least $30 billion in Libyan assets have been frozen since President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Libya last week.
/ Source: Reuters

Banks froze a record $30 billion of Libyan assets over the weekend in response to an Obama administration order aimed at pressuring the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In a telephone briefing, a senior Treasury Department official said the amount was the largest total blocked by any single order ever issued by the U.S. government.

David Cohen, acting Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the department was in contact with banks throughout the weekend. He said they will "scour their accounts" for any more funds connected to Gaddafi or his family.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order freezing the assets last Friday in response to Gaddafi's bloody crackdown on an uprising against his 41-year rule. Obama said the legitimacy of Gaddafi's rule had been "reduced to zero" because of the actions taken against protesters.

Cohen noted that the United Nations has also passed a resolution freezing Libyan assets and that the European Union was taking corresponding action. He turned aside questions whether the United States had information about Libyan assets in Europe other than to say the Treasury assumed some were outside U.S. jurisdiction.

He said the U.S. order applied to any banks operating under U.S. laws within the United States and to branches of U.S., banks that were located in other countries.