Tunisia has ordered its brokerages to suspend securities
trading by 123 firms, sources said, including Dubai's Shuaa Capital and the
parent companies of at least two publicly listed Tunisian firms.
The firms were named in a confidential list issued at the
end of February by Tunisia's financial authorities. They are trying to pry
loose the grip of overthrown President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali's extended
family on the North African country's economy.
"We were told not to let these companies invest or
withdraw money from their trading accounts. Their accounts are frozen," a
Tunis-based broker said.
The list, mostly privately held Tunisian companies, was
issued by Tunisia's financial markets regulator, Conseil de Marche Financier.
Dubai-listed investment bank Shuaa Capital, a notable
foreign inclusion in the list, declined to comment on whether it was aware of
the existence of the Tunisian list.
"Shuaa Capital has no past or current dealings with the
former president of Tunisia," a Shuaa Capital spokeswoman said.
The list, which was seen by Reuters, also includes BINA
Corporation, majority shareholder of Carthage Cement, as well as Princesse
Holding which holds stakes in Ennakl Auto and Bank Ziytouna.
Also named was Tunisian holding company Investec, which is
controlled by Ben Ali's son-in-law Marwan Ben Mabrouk, who holds a stake in
mobile operator Orange Tunisie.
"We received a list of 123 companies...to freeze the
accounts of companies linked to people close to Ben Ali," said another
broker in Tunis.
BINA Corporation, Princesse Holding and Carthage Cement
could not be reached for comment, while Ennakl declined to comment.
On Thursday, Tunisia's interim government seized the 51 percent
stake in Orange Tunisie owned by Ben Mabrouk through Investec.
When contacted, Tunisia's central bank and financial markets
regulator both declined to comment.
Earlier this month, the interim government said it would
freeze assets of 112 people close to the ousted president pending the
completion of investigations into corruption.
Tunisia's attempt to bring businessmen who prospered through
ties with the previous regime is mirrored in Egypt, which is expected to expand
a list of people whose assets have been frozen pending investigations into
links with former leader Hosni Mubarak.
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