LONDON, (Reuters) – Britain extended a freeze on assets to a further 20 members of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s entourage on Friday and has impounded around 100 million pounds ($163 million) of Libyan currency.
Around 2 billion pounds of assets belonging to Libyan interests are believed to have been frozen under sanctions against Gaddafi’s government after its violent crackdown on protests against Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.
The asset freeze was imposed last week and initially applied only to Gaddafi and his immediate family. It nows extends to 26 people.
“The Chancellor is determined that the UK and international community does all that it can to ensure that financial assets cannot be used against the interests of the Libyan people,” finance minister George Osborne’s department said.
British authorities seized the cargo of Libyan currency from a ship that returned to its waters on Wednesday after it was unable to dock in the Libyan capital of Tripoli because of security concerns.
The boat eventually docked in Harwich, eastern England, where British border guards unloaded its containers and took them to a secure location.
Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier this week that Britain had blocked a separate shipment of 900 million pounds in banknotes destined for Libya.
Treasury officials and HSBC refused to comment on reports that the bank holds many of the cash and assets affected by the freeze.
The Libyan Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has a stake of more than 3 percent in Pearson – publisher of the Financial Times newspaper. That stake has been frozen.