Neither the late Muammar Gaddafi nor the citizens of Libya have access to the whopping £12 billion in assets the former head of state had in the UK, but Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has collected around £17 million in taxes on the assets since 2016, according to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s latest report.
The disclosure has prompted some British lawmakers to demand that London use the money earned in interest on the frozen accounts to compensate the victims of the Irish Republican Army (IRA); the organisation was supplied with weapons and explosives by the Gaddafi government in the 1980s.
The question then arises: it is legal to take money in taxes from the frozen assets of another state?
Nothing But Old-Fashioned Bank Robbery’
“In my view there is no legality in that”, said American lawyer and peace activist Dan Kovalik. “This is money that properly belongs to the Libyan people. In fact, what they are doing amounts to theft from the Libyan people, who really could use the money after the NATO bombing of Libya. They left Libya a shattered country. The West has done nothing to help it rebuild. And then to steal assets like that… is not only illegal but it’s immoral”.
Kovalik underscored that it is up to the government of Libya how the dividends from the frozen assets should be distributed.
“Really, it should be turned over to the authorities in Libya who need to decide how that is distributed; it’s not up to the Western powers to decide for Libya what to do.”
According to the lawyer, it would be legitimate if the Libyan authorities sued the British government in court to get their money back. However, he expressed doubt that it would happen anytime soon, since Libya has been left without a unified national government.
“This was nothing but old-fashioned bank robbery,” he opined. “I don’t think there was ever an intention to give that money back.”
It is not the first time that Gaddafi’s frozen assets have been mishandled. In autumn 2018, the Belgium government was accused of paying out interest and dividends on the colonel’s bank accounts. Following Gaddafi’s death in 2011, about 16 billion euros belonging to the colonel were frozen in four Belgian banks in accordance with a UN resolution. However, an investigation conducted by Politico magazine indicated “regular outflows of stock dividends, bond income and interest payments to unknown beneficiaries with bank accounts in Luxembourg and Bahrain” between 2011 and 2017.
Read the original article here.
Credit image/sputnik/Vladimir Fedorenko