U.S. Tightens Libya Sanctions, Targets Banks in Turkey, Tunisia, Lebanon

The U.S. government tightened sanctions against three Libya-controlled banks in Turkey, Tunisia and Lebanon on Tuesday, ratcheting up the pressure on leader Moammer Gadhafi's support.

The U.S. Treasury Department said it had targeted three foreign Libyan-owned banks, identified six additional companies subject to sanctions, and lifted sanctions against a former Libyan oil minister who defected from the Gadhafi regime last month.

The three banks -- Arab Turkish Bank, headquartered in Istanbul; the North Africa International Bank based in Tunisia; and the North Africa Commercial Bank based in Beirut -- were identified as being involved with an already sanctioned Libyan bank.

The Treasury Department said it was blocking their right to have transactions with U.S. businesses or citizens.

The banks have "processed commercial transactions on behalf of or for the benefit of Libyan Arab Foreign Bank," the department said in a statement.

The United States "continues to authorize transactions involving banks that are owned or controlled by the government of Libya and organized under the laws of a country other than Libya provided that the transactions do not otherwise benefit the Gadhafi regime or any other person whose property and interests in property are blocked," it said.

Washington added to its sanctions list six companies owned by the Libyan government, including four foreign firms: Ghana Libya Arab Holding Co. and its tourist subsidiary Glahco Hotels and Tourism Development Co.; a Pakistan fund, Pak-Libya Holding Co.; and a Norwegian chemical company, Libyan Norwegian Fertilizer Co.

The Treasury said it was lifting sanctions against former Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem, who announced his defection on June 1.

"Our sanctions are intended to prevent harm and change behavior," said Adam Szubin, head of the Treasury's foreign assets control office.

"To the extent that sanctioned individuals distance themselves from the Gadhafi regime, these measures can be lifted."

Source: Agence France Presse

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