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Anger in Libya after Belgium is Accused of Funding Militias from Frozen Gaddafi Accounts

Anger in Libya after Belgium is Accused of Funding Militias from Frozen Gaddafi Accounts

Thursday, 1 November, 2018 - 08:45
Late former Libyan ruler Moammar al-Gaddafi. (AFP)

Libyan officials demanded Wednesday Belgian authorities to reveal the fate of interest and dividends on accounts frozen under United Nations sanctions in 2011 amid reports that Brussels had financed Libyan militias from these funds.

Public broadcaster RTBF said Monday that up to 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) could have been disbursed to people controlling Libyan accounts, including militia groups in the country accused of human rights abuses.

Dr. Abdulsalam Nasiya, of the Libyan parliament’s dialogue committee, called on authorities to exert efforts to salvage those funds.

“The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), general prosecutor and audit authorities are demanded to find out how those funds have been disbursed and who received them,” he said.

“Libya is fueling its crisis out of its own resources,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, head of the LIA Ali Mahmoud Hassan denied that the frozen accounts had been tampered with.

Brussels is respecting the UN Security Council sanctions, he stated.

After the overthrow of Libyan ruler Moammar al-Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, the Security Council issued an order to freeze the LIA’s sovereign funds, estimated at the time at around 150 million to 170 million euros.

Head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj had said in July that these funds were actually around 67 million euros.

Former LIA chairman Mohsen al-Derregia said that there have been frequent reports about the Libyan accounts in Belgian banks.

“We have never received any transparent answer from Authority officials to inquiries about them, starting from the GNA chief, LIA board of directors and its chairman,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The funds in Belgium belong to the LIA, which is operating from Jordan and is not controlled by the GNA, he revealed.

“The Belgian general prosecutor must reveal the fate of the funds that have been deposited in the Euroclear Bank.”

Head of Libya’s organization for economic competitiveness Fawzi Ammar al-Lawlaki said that it is forbidden to trade with the Libyan assets, but their interests are not frozen.

These interests are being transferred to the LIA and other agencies, he told Asharq Al-Awsat, demanding that the international community exert efforts to reveal the size of these funds and where they have gone.

RTBF said that when the UN agreed to freeze deposits held by Gaddafi’s administration abroad, Belgium had done so but had not halted payments of interest and dividends.

RTBF said that the Belgian government financed Libyan militias, including those accused of human trafficking.

In 2012, then Belgian Finance Minister Steven Vanackere had permitted Euroclear Bank to release the Libyan funds in October of that same year at the request of the deputy treasurer.

Prosecutors, the government and Belgian banks did not comment on the report, which cited an unidentified source.

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