Canada

Ottawa freezes $2B in Libyan assets

The Canadian government has frozen more than $2 billion in Libyan assets, and continues to target holdings of embattled ruler Moammar Gadhafi and his family, CBC News has learned.
Several countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada, have frozen the assets of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)

The Canadian government has frozen more than $2 billion in Libyan assets so far, and continues to target holdings of embattled ruler Moammar Gadhafi and his family, CBC News has learned.

The move to freeze the assets came after Canada learned the Libyan regime was planning to withdraw the funds from as-yet-unidentified Canadian banks.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Canada's financial transactions watchdog — FINTRAC — issued a statement calling for "increased vigilance" from Canadian banks in relation to the situations in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, and reminded financial institutions about their obligations to file suspicious transactions reports.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Sunday evening the federal government imposed an asset freeze and a ban on financial transactions with the government of Libya, its institutions and agencies, including the Libyan central bank.

The action was aligned with the direction of the United Nations Security Council, which  voted unanimously the day before to freeze Gadhafi's assets, and impose a travel ban on the Libyan dictator and those close to him.

U.S. freezes $30B

Since Libyans began their revolt against Gadhafi's 41-year-old rule two weeks ago, his regime has launched the harshest crackdown in the Arab world, where authoritarian rulers are facing an unprecedented wave of uprisings.

The funds join the billions of Gadhafi assets already frozen by the United States and European nations in response to the regime's crackdown, which has been blamed for the deaths of as many as 1,000 people, according to UN estimates.

A Treasury Department official said the $30 billion the U.S. government froze was the largest amount ever held by a sanctions order.

Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed in a telephone call on Monday to consider additional actions against Gadhafi to deter further violence in Libya.