Restoring smuggled money is essential
Friday, 20 July 2012 10:46 GMT
Tunisia's minister of Justice Noureddine Beheiri has said regaining the money smuggled abroad by ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the main figures of his regime was "a matter of dignity for the Tunisians".
The official has called for popular pressure against any country that will not show sufficient coordination with the Tunisian government over this issue.
Interviewed by Arabstoday, the minister said: "We have taken all the required legal procedures, and now it is the Tunisian soceity's turn as well as all the non-governmental organisations in addition to the media and internet activists to pressure the countries which hold this money in order to return it o Tunisia."
The minister admitted that his government was still unaware about the definite figures of the money smuggled by Ben Ali and his close aides in foreign banks, but he insisted the government is assured that the total amount is considerably huge."
"We worked hard on all fronts and did everything possible to meet all the administrative and legal requirements needed in all the countries where Ben Ali, his relatives and his aides have smuggled the money to," Beheiri added.
The Tunisian minister asserted that his government's position is supported by the relative international agreements, as well as by "Tunisia's friends all over the world, and those include both governments; like the Swiss and the American governments, and international organisations; like the World Bank and the African Development Bank".
The amount of money smuggled by Ben Ali and the main figures of his regime was earlier anticipated to be around $ 23 billion as per a report issued by the Financial Transparency Organisation , a Tunisian NGO.
Last Tuesday, Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki said directly after a meeting with French Prime Minister Francois Hollande that "this man [Ben Ali] and his family had stolen several billions of US dollars from the Tunisians, and all this money must be returned."
On Monday, Ben Ali's lawyer responded by saying the Tunisian government was welcome to any of its deposed dictator's assets it could find hidden in Swiss banks. Beirut-based lawyer Akram Azoury, who earlier denied there were any such funds, said he had authorised the Swiss government to turn over all such funds to the Tunisians.