Swiss identify £580m of Gaddafi assets

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The Swiss government has identified potential assets worth 830m Swiss francs (£580m) belonging to the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the ousted presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

Swiss President and Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said that the assets include 360m Swiss francs that may belong to Gaddafi or his entourage. She said Switzerland had also linked some 410m francs to the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and 60m to Tunisia's deposed Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Switzerland has ordered banks and other financial institutions to freeze possible assets belonging to the three men and their key supporters to prevent the funds from being withdrawn. It said said that Tunisia and Egypt had already started legal proceedings to claim the assets. The government added that neither country had provided evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing involving the money.

The Swiss government sent diplomatic cables to Tunisia and Egypt in late March explaining that they must submit evidence so authorities can decide if any offences are punishable in Switzerland. In both cases, the money will remain locked away for three years while the two countries satisfy Swiss legal requirements.

* Turkey escalated the pressure on Libya yesterday, insisting that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi should leave immediately "for the sake of his country's future".