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A 'startling' €1.5 billion held in Irish banks can't be touched - because of this man

And almost €3 million is linked to Al Qaeda, Syria and Iran.

Politics - Libya - Muammar al-Gaddafi - Rome File photo of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Source: Associated Press

IRISH FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS have frozen close to €1.5 billion under EU and UN sanctions linked to various countries and Al Qaeda, with almost all of the funding relating to Libya.

One TD has suggested the vast sums could be used by the state to help manage the current refugee crisis.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan released the figures, provided by the Central Bank, in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty.

They show that Irish banks have frozen money linked to individuals and entities in Iran, Syria, Libya, Liberia, Burma, Somalia and North Korea, as well as the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Although the accounts involve a variety of different currencies, conversions indicate that:

  • €1,482,885,723 in frozen money relates to Libya
  • €1,124,825 relates to Iran
  • €1,086,517 relates to Al Qaeda
  • €552,895 relates to Syria
  • €11,150 relates to Liberia and Burma
  • €40 relates to North Korea and Somalia

Doherty, who is on the Oireachtas Finance Committee, called the total of approximately €1,485,661,150 “startling,” in a statement to TheJournal.ie.

I have submitted follow-up questions to explore ways to have some of these monies released to the State to aid the management of the refugee crisis, for example.

The Irish Central Bank told TheJournal.ie they were not in a position to provide the names of individuals or entities associated with the funds.

However, the EU and UN do publish regularly updated lists of those targeted by economic sanctions, travel bans and trade and arms embargoes.

MIDEAST JORDAN WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM File photo of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Source: Associated Press

In the case of Libya, EU and UN asset freezes are currently in place against 36 named individuals and 18 organisations, all closely associated with the Gaddafi regime.

Of the individuals, 13 are members of the extended Gaddafi family, including the dictator’s children Mohammed, Saadi, Saif al-Islam, Aisha and Hannibal, and his cousin Sayyid Qadhaf al-Dam.

Gaddafi’s high-profile 43-year-old son Saif al-Islam, who controversially received a PhD from the London School of Economics, was captured by rebels in 2011, and sentenced to death in July.

Gaddafi’s sons Saif al-Arab, Mutassim, and Khamis were killed in the revolution, along with their father, but their assets remain frozen.

In all, five of the 36 people whose money is frozen are dead.

During and after the Libyan revolution in 2011, the US, UN and EU hammered Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi his family, and regime with sanctions.

In the years since Gaddafi’s death, the “restrictive measures”, as they are known, have frozen an estimated $150 billion (€109 billion) worldwide.

In July, it was revealed at the Banking Inquiry that representatives of Gaddafi met with Irish government officials in 2010, about the prospect of buying €1.4 billion in Bank of Ireland.

Former National Treasury Management Agency head John Corrigan said officials from the NTMA even travelled to Libya to discuss a deal, but that Gaddafi pulled out in the end, due to Ireland’s delicate financial situation.

And in the UK, a parliamentary committee recently heard calls for some of the £900 million of Gaddafi’s money frozen in British banks to be used to compensate the victims of IRA attacks using explosives provided by Libya.

Read: The bizarre story of how Gaddafi almost bought a big chunk of Bank of Ireland>

Read: UK agents allegedly involved in arrest and torture of Irish resident in Saudi Arabia>

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Dan MacGuill

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