Asset Recovery Watch

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (United Kingdom)
President (1987-2011)
United Kingdom
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Asset Location / Alleged Asset Location
Art.17, Art.23
Case in Investigatory/Asset Restraint Stage
European Union sanctions
Ongoing Case
Investigation/Asset Tracing/Asset Restraint
Unspecified amount (Please see Summary for description)

According to the United Kingdom's Parliamentary website (, On October 3, 2011, the following written response was given to "Question Asked by Lord Hylton: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they, or international institutions of which they are a member, are holding frozen Tunisian funds; if so, whether they are taking action to release them in order to aid the Tunisian economy.[HL11926] The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): An EU-wide asset freeze was imposed against 48 Tunisian individuals on 4 February. The Treasury subsequently introduced criminal penalties for breaches of the asset freeze and notified the financial sector of the measures. The Treasury also added the list of Tunisia targets to its consolidated list of financial sanctions which is checked by the sector against client and customer databases. A small amount of assets have been frozen within the UK. We cannot disclose further details at this stage but are working with the Tunisian Government to ensure they understand the legal processes involved in releasing and repatriating these assets. Assets have been frozen in other jurisdictions across Europe."

According to a January 26, 2011 media release by INTERPOL, Mr. Ben Ali's arrest was sought by Tunisia on charges of alleged property theft and illegal transfer of foreign currency. (Source: INTERPOL media release, "Tunisia seeks ousted President and family via INTERPOL," January 26, 2011, accessed at According to secondary sources, Mr. Ben Ali was convicted in absentia in June 2011 on theft and unlawful possesion of cash and jewelry; in July 2011, he was convicted of property related charges. (Source: BBC News, "Tunisia's Ben Ali guilty on drugs and gun charges," July 4, 2011 and "Tunisia's Ben Ali guilty of corrupt property deals," July 29, 2011) and in June 2012, he was sentenced by a Tunisian military court to life imprisonment for his complicity in the murder and attempted murder of demonstrators; Human Rights Watch noted that Mr. Ben Ali has been tried and convicted in absentia and if he returned to Tunisia, he would be entitied to a new trial. (Source: Clive Baldwin, "After Ben-Ali's Conviction: The State of Tunisian Justice," Human Rights Watch, June 16, 2012.)

Commission for the Investigation of Corruption and Embezzlement; Attorney Enrico Monfrini (civil asset recovery)