Tunisia opens judicial inquiry into ex-president's assets

08:14, January 20, 2011      

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Tunisian prosecutors opened a judicial inquiry into the assets of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family, state-run TAP news agency reported Wednesday.

The investigation will look at possible financial transactions, foreign bank accounts and other assets held by Ben Ali, his family members and his close associates.

Meanwhile, TAP reported that Germany will support the freezing of eventual banks accounts of the former president and his family in the European Union.

The move comes in the aftermath of Switzerland's decision to freeze "with immediate effect" eventual assets belonging to the former president and his family.

On Tuesday, French Minister of Economy Christine Lagarde said that her country would take all appropriate measures to prevent the transfer of assets of the ousted president and his family.

In a related event, the activities of the Zitouna Bank owned by the former president's son-in-law Sakher El Materi was placed under the supervision of the Tunisian Central Bank, pending an investigation as to the origins of its 70 million dinar (49 million U.S. dollars) capital.

Sakher El Materi who is reported to have fled the country is the object of a judicial enquiry for corruption.

Four ministers resigned Tuesday from the newborn unity government, asking for a reshuffle excluding the ministers who already served under the former ruler.

Ben Ali, who had been in power since 1987, fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday following mass protests against his government over unemployment, price hike and corruption.

The rating agency Moody's announced Wednesday that it has lowered its credit rating of Tunisia to Baa3 from Baa2, saying that it may cut it further because of the instability and unrest following the ousting of the country's former president.

Source: Xinhua

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