Gaddafi family assets seized in Italy

Assets worth more than €1-billion belonging to the late Muammar Gaddafi, his son and his intelligence chief were seized in Italy in raids by its revenue guard made at the request of the international criminal court in The Hague.

They included holdings in some of Italy’s biggest corporations, a 1.5% stake in the Serie A side Juventus and a Harley-Davidson motorbike.

Also seized from the Libyan leader was a 150-hectare estate on the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria, a destination for illegal migrants and refugees attempting to enter Europe by boat from Libya.

The seizures were ordered by the Rome appeals court at the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The ICC launched a hunt for property belonging to Gaddafi and his associates last June when it issued warrants for their arrest on charges of crimes against humanity.

Financial assets owned by the late Libyan leader had earlier been frozen in the European Union and elsewhere following two UN resolutions in February and March, 2011. Gaddafi was killed by insurgents last October after failing to put down a popular uprising backed by most western powers.

The most valuable single item seized was a 1.26% interest in Italy’s biggest bank, Unicredit, worth more than €600-million. Other significant shareholdings included stakes in the oil and gas giant, ENI, the defence firm Finmeccanica and two companies in the Fiat motor group.

All the assets were held through Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, which was set up in 2006, ostensibly to manage Libya’s oil revenues and diversify the country’s income. LIA’s stake in Unicredit was its biggest single investment.

Several bank accounts holding cash and shares were destined to be put under temporary, special administration as a result of Wednesday’s operation. Also put under sequester was a flat in the centre of Rome, close to the Via Veneto. The Harley-Davidson was one of two motorcycles confiscated by the revenue guard.

It was not immediately clear which of the assets belonged to Gaddafi, which to his son, Saif Al-Islam and which to his former head of intelligence, Abdullah Senussi.

Gaddafi’s son was captured last November and is being held in Libya. Senussi, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, was reportedly arrested in Mauritania earlier this month. —

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