, PARIS, Jan 17 – Relatives of the ousted Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali are thought to have fled the country with 1.5 tonnes in gold, Le Monde reported Monday, citing French intelligence sources.
At Monday\’s prices 1.5 tonnes in gold would fetch $65 million dollars (49 million euros) on the open market.
According to Le Monde, President Nicolas Sarkozy\’s office has been briefed by French intelligence that Leila Trabelsi, Ben Ali\’s second wife, withdrew gold ingots from the Tunisian central bank last week.
The governor initially resisted her request, but backed down under pressure from Ben Ali himself, the report said.
Ben Ali and Leila have now fled Tunisia, under pressure from an unprecedented wave of street protests and amid anger that their family is accused of looting the country\’s resources.