Tunisian workers and youth began to seize government buildings on Jan. 14, 2011 in a bid to force the western-backed regime of President Ben Ali to resign. Ben Ali fled the country leaving Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi in charge., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
November 26, 2012, 2:27 PM
EU to Unfreeze, Return Assets to Tunisia and Egypt
By Samuel Rubenfeld
Wall Street Journal
The European Union said Monday it will lift sanctions it placed on Egypt and Tunisia, and will assist in returning frozen assets to the country.
In a statement, the European Council of Ministers said a new legislative framework authorized EU member states to release frozen assets based on judicial decisions recognized in the states. Once the judicial steps are taken, the statement said, assets tied to the former regimes of Hosni Mubarak and Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali can be released to the new governments in each country.
The legislative framework will also facilitate the exchange of information between EU states and Tunisian and Egyptian authorities to help in civil asset recovery actions relating to misappropriated funds, the statement said.
“The return of funds misappropriated by the previous regimes in Tunisia and Egypt is a priority for us, said Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, in the statement. “The EU will spare no effort to help return this money to the people of these two countries.”
Since January 2011, the EU froze the assets of 48 people, including Ben Ali, responsible for misappropriating Tunisian state assets. It froze the assets of 19 people, including Mubarak, for misappropriating Egyptian state assets, the statement said.
The EU didn’t say in the statement how much money was involved. Switzerland, which isn’t a member of the EU, was a favored place for both regimes to park their assets. Both Mubarak and Ben Ali have been convicted.