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Yemen’s Saleh stole up to $60bn: UN

26 February 2015 9:33

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Ousted Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh has amassed and transferred billions of dollars out of the world’s most impoverished Arab country through “corrupt practices”, a UN panel says.

In a report to the UN Security Council released on Wednesday, the UN experts said the money, amounted to between $32 billion and $60 billion, was gained through corruption during his 33-year rule over Yemen.

The experts said the money was stashed in at least 20 countries and they were continuing an investigation to find those who abetted the former dictator.

“The origin of the funds used to generate Ali Abdullah Saleh’s wealth is believed to be partly from his corrupt practices as president of Yemen, particularly relating to gas and oil contracts where he reportedly asked for money in exchange for granting companies exclusive rights to prospect for gas and oil in Yemen,” the report said.

Saleh pocketed nearly $2 billion per year over the past three decades, the report concluded.

“It is also alleged that Ali Abdullah Saleh, his friends, his family and his associates stole money from the fuel subsidy program, which uses up to 10 percent of Yemen’s gross domestic product, as well as other ventures involving abuse of power, extortion and embezzlement.”

Many of the officials interviewed by the experts have called for returning the money to the poor country.

“Many have argued that the country’s spiraling debt and economic problems would be alleviated with a repatriation of these alleged stolen assets.”

Last November, the Security Council imposed sanctions on the former ruler that included assets freeze.

“He has had plenty of time and opportunity to circumvent measures to freeze assets,” the report said.

Saleh stepped down in February 2012 under a US-backed power transfer deal in return for immunity, after a year of mass street demonstrations demanding his ouster.

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