The Associated Press February 18, 2011, 4:08AM ET

Ivory Coast's Gbagbo seizes 4 international banks

A spokesman for Ivory Coast's incumbent leader who refuses to cede power says Laurent Gbagbo's government has seized four major international banks that had shut down operations in the West African country.

Gbagbo government spokesman Ahoua Don Mello read a decree on state TV late Thursday saying that the banks did not respect the law and closed without proper notice. According to Ivorian law banks have to give three months notice.

He said they had seized Britain's Standard Chartered, France's BNP-Paribas and Societe Generale along with U.S. bank Citibank. These banks hold a majority of the bank accounts for civil servants.

Don Mello said that Gbagbo's government would nationalize the banks and would pay February salaries. The banks closed because of financial sanctions from the international community intended to force Gbagbo out.

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