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Tunisia/Foreign assets of Ben Ali family

Publié le January 20, 2011
Reply given by Christine Lagarde, Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry, to a question in the National Assembly
Paris, January 18, 2011

Mr Deputy, everyone is aware of your commitment to ethics and the fight against corruption. At the request of President Sarkozy and the Prime Minister, François Baroin and I approached TRACFIN [French anti-money-laundering authority] on Saturday and asked that body to alert all the self-regulating financial and non-financial players – I’m thinking particularly of notaries public and lawyers – to report any suspicious transactions and exercise absolute vigilance on all assets belonging, whether directly or indirectly, to the entourage and family of former president Ben Ali.

If necessary, we have two working days from the reporting of such a transaction to impose an immediate freeze. We then have the chance to refer the matter to the judicial authorities. Let me tell you that the president of the Tribunal de Grande Instance [roughly equivalent to an English county court] has been alerted to this possibility, so that he may be in a position to take all necessary measures to that effect.

Beyond this immediate and robust action that we’ve undertaken, we’re now taking action in three directions. Firstly, identifying all the moveable and immoveable assets belonging to the family or close relatives of former president Ben Ali. Secondly, cooperating very closely with the Tunisian authorities – I’m thinking in particular of the judicial authorities. And thirdly and finally, approaching all the authorities, including TRACFIN’s counterpart, to achieve a freeze via judicial channels and the restoration of the assets to the owners.

As you can see, France is very firmly and very definitively engaged in these matters, as she also is with regard to the fight against corruption and the recovery of assets illegally transferred to illegal beneficiaries./.

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