Gaddafi asset freeze hit by name confusion

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Attempts to freeze the overseas assets of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi will be hampered as there are 115,000 potential spellings of his full name.

Every one of those spellings is a legitimate transliteration of his name and many banks and financial institutions simply will not have software sophisticated enough to track every variation. This means that some of Col Gaddafi's assets might not be identified.

The EU, the UK, the US and the UN all froze the assets of Col Gaddafi and his inner circle last week as the international community pushed to end his 42-year regime.

Dr Tony Wicks, a director at anti-money laundering group Nice Actimize, said: "There is a challenge for institutions with early generational technology. There are many choices on how to spell Gaddafi's name. It can start with a Q, a G, a K and this presents problems for the banks."

The biggest banks are likely to be equipped with the most up-to-date technology and should be able to find every asset. However, smaller institutions are likely to have to put more manpower on to the search as they heavily scrutinise the spelling variants.

The EU list of targeted individuals comprises 26 people, including state officials and members of the Gaddafi family.