Libya admits to receiving interest payment of frozen funds, but questions remain

Political divisions in Libya have negatively impacted the Libyan Investment Authority which manages billions of dollars abroad. (AFP)

The Libyan Investment Authority said on Sunday that it has received the interest payments on the Libyan funds frozen in Belgian banks until the end of October 2017, but its statement does not reveal details on who benefitted from this money, which some reports hint that it was either misused in Libya or embezzled.

The authority’s statement came in response to Belgium’s acknowledgment that Euroclear Bank in Brussels transferred the interests of Libyan funds that are frozen in four Belgian banks to bank accounts in Luxembourg, Bahrain and Britain.

According to the authority, the accounts that received the funds are “special authority accounts abroad.” It added that withdrawing the interests was based “on the sanctions system imposed by the UN Security Council at the beginning of 2011 and which some countries, including Belgium, interpreted as lifting off the freeze over interests and dividends of the frozen funds.”

The authority however did not provide any information about where these funds ended up and said it will launch an investigation to know the fate of the funds which were transferred to its accounts in Euroclear Bank, noting that these funds were transferred during a former administration’s term. It added that it will submit a report on the matter to the UN and relevant authorities.

The authority has issued a previous statement earlier this month saying that reports about withdrawing the interests of UN-frozen Libyan funds were “mere allegations” and there was “no evidence at all stipulating that the funds were used to fund armed groups.”

In a new statement to Al Arabiya English, a representative of the Libyan Investment Authority said that there was no any misuse of the money or embezzlement and “no evidence whatsoever that any funds have been used to finance armed groups."

The Libyan Investment Authority’s statement said “Neither does the LIA 10 November statement contradict the 31 October LIA statement. The LIA stands by that statement.”

Political divisions in Libya have negatively impacted the Libyan Investment Authority which manages billions of dollars abroad. Since 2011, the authority has had four presidents and armed groups in control of Tripoli who interfered in the authority’s work and imposed its presidents by force, a UN report on Libya said in September.

Member of Parliament Ali Al-Tikbali told Al Arabiya English that the authority’s lack of administrative stability and the interference of armed groups in its work make it easy to reach the authority’s accounts and benefit from them, especially amid the absence of an oversight mechanism.

The authority’s “late” statement acknowledging that money was transferred to its accounts in Luxembourg, Britain and Bahrain was not convincing as many Libyan officials, such as the head of the Dialogue Committee of the House of Representatives Abdel Salam Nasiya, demanded an investigation to know who benefitted from the money.

“Once again, we do not want information on how Belgium released the interests of the frozen Libyan funds and how legal this is. We want to know where this money went and how it was used. The Libyan Investment Authority must (figure this out) and must do so quickly. The attorney general must take action and appoint a special investigative judge,” Nasiya said on Twitter.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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