Yesterday we reported that as part of the brave US crackdown on Libya, up to $30 billion in Libyan assets have been frozen (and as noted yesterday, we still look forward to finding out just which US banks were the biggest recipients of Libyan recycled capital, whose source was naturally mostly the US and Europe... and actually European too, but more on that in a second). According to the latest BIS deposit data, however, this is merely half of the deposits held by all Libyan residents aborad as of September 2010. Incidentally this makes Libya the third "richest" country in MENA when looked at the amount of foreign deposits, just behind Saudi Arabia with $156 billion and the UAE with $75 billion (although both of these countries have massively more assets compared to Libya's nominal $1.6 billion). Bloomberg digs deeper into the number: "Most deposits were from banks in Libya, including branches of foreign institutions, while $8.2 billion was from non-bank Libyan residents, according to quarterly banking statistics compiled by the BIS and last released on Jan. 28." And now that Libya's seized assets are in the no man's land of international judicial limbo, and Libyan depositors likely to start a wholesale scramble to recoup whatever capital is still unlocked, how long before every nation in the revolutionary region decided to do the prudent thing and convert their deposits into tangible assets before some politicians decides to do the same asset freeze with their money. Lastly, just which European banks are the recipients of these hundreds of billions in deposits between the region's three biggest oil exporters?
The BIS statistics are based on reports from 43 countries, including most developed nations and offshore centers such as the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles and the British Channel Islands. The figures don’t cover direct investments by Libyans in assets overseas.
The European Union yesterday imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions including an asset freeze, and the U.S. said it has frozen $30 billion in Libyan assets. Switzerland on Feb. 24 froze the assets of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his entourage for three years to avoid the possible “misappropriation” of the funds.
And the relevant page from the full report: