Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has allegedly amassed assets estimated at 32 to 60 billion dollars during his 33 years in power, a UN report said Wednesday.
The report compiled by a panel of experts for the UN Security Council said that the former Yemeni leader transferred most of his assets to some 20 countries “under false names or the names of others holding the assets on his behalf.”
“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, who was deposed in 2012 under a Gulf-sponsored deal, made nearly 2 billion dollars a year for more than three decades, the experts estimated.
“These assets are said to take the form of property, cash, shares, gold and other valuable commodities.”
“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 per cent of Yemen’s gross domestic product, as well as other ventures involving abuse of power, extortion and embezzlement.”
The 15-member Security Council imposed sanctions including an assets freeze on Saleh last November. However, the report says that Saleh had many years “to circumvent measures” that aim to freeze assets, and sought the assistance of at least five prominent Yemeni businessmen who allegedly helped him hide his assets.
Saleh is widely accused of having a role in the current unrest in Yemen, where Houthi Shiite rebels have captured the capital Sanaa and forced Saleh’s successor Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi to resign his presidency.
Following his alleged house arrest in his residence in Sanaa, Hadi escaped to Aden in the country’s south, where he rescinded his resignation and has reportedly established a base there.
The UN Security Council welcomed Hadi’s release from house arrest.
The council called on Houthis to “immediately, unconditionally and safely release Prime Minister [Khaled] Bahah, members of the Cabinet and all individuals still under house arrest or arbitrarily detained.”