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Give returns from Gaddafi frozen assets to IRA victims of Libyan Semtex, UK Government told

09:06 08 March 2021 Author :  

The Government should give hundreds of thousands of pounds in returns on frozen investments formerly owned by Colonel Gaddafi in the UK to relatives of IRA bombings which used Libya-supplied Semtex.

Ministers have detailed for the first time the scale of the assets held by the UK Government since the Libyan dictator fell from power over a decade ago.

The news comes ahead after William Shawcross, who produced a report on the assets for the Government last year, was dramatically summoned to appear in front of MPs next week. Ministers have refused so far to publish the report.

The sums which were amassed by the former Libyan dictator amount to £12.1 billion in September 2017, falling to £11.2 billion in September 2018 and £11.8 billion in September 2019, roughly the same as the Home Office's Budget.

Pressure is now growing on ministers to use returns on the investments - which are governed by the same law that has frozen the Libyan assets - to compensate victims of IRA bombs that used Libyan Semtex.

Analysis by The Telegraph suggests that the investments would have generated returns of £483,000, £500,000 and £572,000 in each of the three years if they were held in a FTSE100 tracker fund, suggesting that the Government has benefitted from millions of pounds of returns on the investments since they were first made.

An “annual frozen asset review” has been calculated by the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation since 2016.

It requires “all persons or institutions that hold or control frozen assets in the UK to report to OFSI, from which the following figures are taken”, Treasury minister John Glen said.

Docklands Victims Association president Jonathan Ganesh

He added: “The figures are each an approximate total value of frozen Libyan assets in the UK.”

DUP MP Ian Paisley, a member of the Northern Ireland Affairs committee, said last night: "This staggering amount of money ought to be used to compensate without further delay those individuals who suffered at the hands of Gaddafi sponsored IRA terrorism.

"It is immortal - and frankly unexplainable - why the Government has not been proactive in this regard.

“Using the returns from the frozen asset should pose no conflict to the Government's commitments on frozen assets held. "The long and short of it is the Government is failing victims who deserve so much better."

Mr Paisley also said that any tax paid on the sums should be used to support IRA victims. Peers were told last month that £17million was paid to HM Treasury in tax from the assets in 2019 alone.

Jonathan Ganesh, who was severely injured in the IRA’s 1996 attack on the London Docklands, added: “HM Government should have made moral and principle stand for all victims of terror in the UK by immediately releasing a percentage of the Assets to those victims left severely disabled by the Gaddafi's Semtex".

A Government spokesman said: “The UK Government has profound sympathy for UK victims of Gaddafi-sponsored IRA terrorism and indeed for all victims of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

“Under international law, when assets are frozen, they continue to belong to the sanctioned individual or entity. They are not confiscated or transferred to HM Treasury.”

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