Treasury: US banks should monitor Libyan accounts

AP News
Posted: Feb 25, 2011 12:11 PM
Treasury: US banks should monitor Libyan accounts

The Treasury Department on Friday urged U.S. banks to closely monitor accounts connected to senior political officials in Libya and report any signs of a misappropriation of government funds.

Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said it had issued an advisory to U.S. financial institutions telling them to exercise "enhanced scrutiny" on private banking accounts held by or on behalf of senior political figures in light of the current political unrest in Libya.

The advisory does not freeze the assets of senior Libyan officials, but it does require banks to file suspicious activity reports if they detect transactions that could potentially represent the diversion of state assets. The order is similar to earlier orders issued covering Tunisia and Egypt.

The enforcement agency said in its advisory that banks should "monitor transactions that could potentially represent misappropriated or diverted state assets, proceeds of bribery or other illegal payments or other public corruption proceeds."

When a bank files a suspicious activity report, it alerts federal banking regulators and law enforcement officials to potential problems with particular bank accounts.

On Thursday, the Swiss government said that it had ordered a freeze on any assets in Switzerland belonging to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi. The Swiss Cabinet said it ordered the freeze in view of developments in Libya where security forces have launched a violent crackdown on anti-government protestors.