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Canada freezes $2.3-billion in Libyan assets

A 2007 file photo of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Leon Neal/The Associated Press/Leon Neal/The Associated Press

Canada has frozen $2.3-billion in Libyan assets under UN sanctions against Moammar Gadhafi's regime, according to a government source.

The move is part of an international effort to lock down assets belonging to the Libyan government or its agencies to prevent the Gadhafi regime from using them to fund its counterattacks against protesters as the country heads into civil war.

There were no details on what kind of assets are included in the $2.3-billion now frozen in Canada. They have been purchased or transferred into Canada since a previous round of international sanctions against Libya were lifted in 2003, the source said.

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The Canadian government said Monday that the Libyan regime had tried to withdraw sums from Canada in recent days, but the transactions were blocked.

A handful of major Canadian companies, including engineering company SNC-Lavalin and oil firm Suncor Energy, have substantial projects in Libya. Oil ventures in Libya typically require foreign firms to pay cash bonuses and put up capital in return for a share of proceeds from a joint venture. Neither SNC-Lavalin nor Suncor have said if any of their transactions have been blocked by the sanctions.

The U.S. has said it has frozen $30-billion in Libyan assets, and countries across Europe have frozen billions more.

The previous series of UN sanctions against Libya were lifted when Mr. Gadhafi allowed nuclear-weapons inspectors into the country in 2003. Western countries then sought to encourage him to renounce support of terrorism. Then-Canadian prime minister Paul Martin visited in 2004, one of several leaders to go, and the U.S. lifted its designation of Libya as a terror sponsor in 2006.

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