JOHNSON, SHELBY REACH BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON FRAMEWORK TO USE FROZEN LIBYAN ASSETS TO PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN AID TO LIBYAN PEOPLE
June 8, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Today, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) announced they will advance a bipartisan bill soon to allow the President to confiscate and distribute some of the frozen assets of Muammar Qaddafi’s government to be used to provide humanitarian relief to the Libyan people. The ongoing revolution in Libya has nearly brought its economy to a halt and has precipitated a humanitarian crisis as supplies of food and basic medical equipment run dangerously low in some areas.
“The ongoing violence in Libya has disrupted the economy and left far too many innocent Libyan citizens struggling to simply put food on the table and to manage the daily necessities of life,” said Senator Johnson. “These frozen government assets are the property of the Libyan people and there is no reason why they should continue to be locked up while Libyans are in such dire need of assistance.”
“As the conflict in Libya continues, it is essential that the Libyan people receive the humanitarian aid necessary to survive,” said Senator Shelby. “This legislation provides the President the authority to distribute frozen Libyan Government assets for this purpose and contains critical checks to ensure that those in need are the ones who benefit.”
The Libyan Assets for Humanitarian Relief Act will also be cosponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) and Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT). It was drafted in close consultation with these Senators and Obama administration officials, and is consistent with the UN Security Council’s call to use these assets for the benefit of the Libyan people.
“I am very pleased to have worked with a strong group of bipartisan senators on this important legislation,” said Senator Kerry. “It is essential that the Qaddafi regime’s frozen assets are used as soon as possible for the benefit of their rightful owners: the Libyan people. I look forward to swift passage of this legislation.”
“I have traveled to Benghazi and met with the members of the Transitional National Council and other Libyans who are doing heroic work to prevail against Qaddafi and to prepare their country for a democratic future," said Senator McCain. "It is essential that the United States do everything we can to support these brave Libyans, and one of the most important actions we can take is to provide some of the Qaddafi regime’s frozen assets to the Libyan opposition. This legislation does that, and I am proud to co-sponsor it.”
"I am pleased to join this bipartisan group of Senators in this important effort,” Senator Levin said. “The frozen assets this legislation seeks to release will enable the Libyan people to acquire the necessary resources to provide for their humanitarian needs and to begin the difficult process of rebuilding their country."
“The Libyan people are fighting courageously for their freedom, but they are running out of the funds they need to continue this struggle,” said Senator Lieberman. “This legislation will not cost the U.S. taxpayer anything. Rather, it will establish a mechanism so that some of the money stolen by Colonel Qaddafi, which has been frozen in the United States, can be used for the benefit of the Libyan people in this moment of crisis.”
Summary of Libyan Assets for Humanitarian Relief Act of 2011
Authorization of Confiscation: The measure authorizes the President to confiscate and vest certain funds and other property of the Government of Libya currently frozen by the U.S. government, allows liquidation of the assets and sale of any property, and directs the proceeds to be used solely for humanitarian purposes to benefit the Libyan people. The Government of Libya is defined to include Libya’s Central Bank.
Account Established for Confiscated Funds: The bill requires the President to establish a U.S. government account to hold confiscated funds, and any proceeds from property sales. The Secretary of the Treasury may hold in escrow funds that are not needed immediately to meet urgent humanitarian needs.
Use of Confiscated Funds for Humanitarian Purposes to Benefit the Libyan People: Libyan Government funds confiscated may only be used for humanitarian purposes to benefit the Libyan people, consistent with United Nations Security Council resolutions. None may be used to purchase weapons or military equipment. The President must designate recipients of funds and impose appropriate terms and conditions, which may include detailed recordkeeping requirements, on recipients. The measure prohibits the knowing transfer of funds to: 1) foreign terrorist organizations; 2) supporters of acts of terrorism or of terrorist organizations; 3) a person whose assets are blocked by the International Emergency Economics Powers Act (IEEPA); or 4) a person the President determines to be responsible for violations of internationally recognized human rights.
Framework for Confiscation of Funds: The bill authorizes an initial confiscation and distribution of $4 billion; if additional funds are needed, the President may notify Congress of his intent to confiscate an additional $4 billion, to be released within 30 days unless Congress objects via enactment of a Joint Resolution of Disapproval. The President’s request for the additional funds must include information about how prior aid was disbursed, a description of the need for additional funds, a plan of how the additional funds will be used, and other information. In the event of a humanitarian emergency, the measure also authorizes the President to notify Congress of his intent to confiscate, on an expedited basis and upon certification of need, an additional $2 billion to meet emergency needs.
Investigations and Recordkeeping: The President may conduct appropriate investigations of recipients as necessary, and require recordkeeping from aid recipients, which could include books of account, records, contracts, letters, memoranda, or other papers related to distributions under the Act.
Audit and Reporting Requirements: The President must provide detailed reports to Congress every 90 days describing the amount of funds confiscated and transferred to designated recipients, the recipients of these funds, and the manner in which these funds were used. If the President notifies Congress of an additional confiscation in the middle of a 90-day period, the President must only include any new information on fund distribution. GAO is required to provide periodic audits on the program.
Penalties: Substantial penalties apply to persons who violate provisions of the Act, including huge fines provided for under section 206 of IEEPA.
Legal Protections/Judicial Review: Decisions made with respect to confiscated assets are not subject to judicial review; a “good faith” exception is provided for those acting consistent with the requirements of the Act; and any funds or property confiscated under the Act are immune from any legal process or attachment.
Termination: The authorities provided for in the bill terminate once the existing emergency determination of the President under IEEPA with respect to Libya expires. Upon termination, the President must submit to Congress a report describing a plan for use of any remaining unspent funds, including return of such funds to a successor government of Libya.
Regulations: The bill requires the President to prescribe regulations as necessary under the Act.