A Belgian judge has issued an international arrest warrant for the Chairman of Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), Ali Mahmoud Hassan. The LIA is the sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing Libya’s assets and foreign investments.
According to AFP, the arrest warrant relates to investigations into the management of Libyan assets frozen in Belgium after the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in 2011.
To avoid possible theft during the uprising against ousted Libyan President Gaddafi, AFP reported, the funds were scattered across several continents before the fall of his regime in 2011.
Such funds are often the subject of legal disputes between the Libyan state and the countries involved.
AFP revealed that the assets in Belgium are in several banks, totalling more than €14 billion. However, some funds disappeared under suspicious circumstances, which are under investigation.
Belgian media has reported that Brussels-based investigating judge Michel Claise wants to interrogate Hassan over the €2 billion that vanished from Euroclear Bank.
The legal battle over the frozen assets has heightened tensions between the Belgian and Libyan governments, with Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh accusing Belgium in November of “trying once again to seize Libyan funds.”
AFP stated that the funds in Belgium are the subject of a dispute involving Belgian Prince Laurent, younger brother of King Philippe, who invested about €50 million in an environmental project in 2008 that never went ahead due to Gaddafi’s fall.
Prince Laurent has been seeking compensation from Libya following the liquidation of his charity, the Global Sustainable Development Trust.
In 2015, Prince Laurent filed a complaint of money laundering and breach of trust. Following investigations into the frozen assets, it was discovered that part of the funds disappeared in 2017.
UN rejects Belgian request to seize Libya frozen assets
The UN Security Council has rejected Belgium’s request to seize $59 million (49 million euros) of Libya’s frozen assets, Libya’s permanent delegate to the UN said Saturday, Anadolu Agency reports.
Taher El-Sonni described the UN rejection of the Belgian move as a “major victory” for Libya.
“This decision is a warning to any country that tries to manipulate the Libyans’ equities,” El-Sonni tweeted.
The diplomat said the Belgium request was unanimously rejected by the UN Security Council members, but without giving any further details.
El-Sonni said that Libya has advised Belgium to withdraw its request as it lacked any legal basis.
There was no comment from Brussels on the UN decision.
Last month, the Belgian government said it would inform UN sanctions committee to unfreeze some of the Libyan assets in Belgian banks to get dues worth $59 million to GSDT, an NGO owned by Belgian Prince Laurent.
GSDT has sued Tripoli for the asset promised to it by former ruler Muammar Gaddafi, following an agreement in 2008 between the Libyan government and the foundation to establish a green project in the oil-rich country.
Since Gaddafi’s ouster and killing in 2011, the UN sanctions committee has imposed an arms embargo on Libya, including the freezing of the country’s funds abroad.