Libyan Investment Authority urges international community to keep Libya’s assets frozen
Chairman of the LIA lobbies UN, EU and countries around the world to safeguard the country’s wealth until a political settlement is in place
October 2015, LIA Headquarters, Tripoli
The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) is calling on the international community to keep the current freeze on the LIA’s assets in place until a new Unity Government is formed. The UN-brokered talks in Libya ended on 22 September and the draft agreement is currently being considered.
The Chairman and CEO of the LIA, Mr AbdulMagid Breish, has been liaising directly with the Chairman of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee, senior European Union officials and the heads of regulatory bodies in the many countries where Libyan investments are held, appealing to them ensure that the asset freeze is kept intact.
Under UN Security Council Resolution 1970 of 26 February 2011, most of the LIA’s assets have been frozen to safeguard them against potential misappropriation and corruption. However, attempts have been made, and continue to be made, to access the LIA’s assets which are not subject to the Resolution. There remains the real possibility that these attempts will be expanded to access other LIA assets, including assets held by the LIA’s various subsidiaries, by seeking the release of assets whichare subject to the Resolution.
LIA Chairman and CEO Mr AbdulMagid Breish says:
“As the international community plays its part in encouraging all sides to agree to the text as set out by UN envoy Bernardino León, I appeal to all countries to remain highly vigilant in ensuring the UN and EU sanctions regime is kept intact.
We must make sure that that both the letter and the spirit of the current sanctions regime is upheld so that the wealth of the Libyan people is safeguarded for the future development of the country.”
Notes to Editors:
- A group based in Malta and led by Hassan Bouhadi is backed by the Tobruk government and claims to represent the board of the LIA.
- Mr Bouhadi has called on countries to release some of the LIA’s assets. In interviews he has referred to this as a ‘smart freeze’.
- LIA is an independent institution charged with safeguarding and managing the assets which belong to all Libyan people. For this purpose it should remain neutral and independent from the current political infighting. A recent draft of a proposed political agreement, presented by Bernardino León, the UN Special Representative for Libya, demands that all sides recognise the continuing independence and integrity of the country’s institutions such as the LIA. Furthermore it states that “it shall not be permissible to control or dispose of [national assets and resources] unless by official state authorities and in accordance with the relevant Libyan legislations in force”.
- On 22 September 2015, Mr León announced the completion of a proposed peace plan to end the political crisis in Libya and has called on all parties to act on the text of the agreement.
- Mr AbdulMagid Breish was appointed Chairman and CEO of the LIA on 1 June 2013.
- Like many officials holding public office at the time, Mr Breish stepped aside from his positions pursuant to an inquiry under the Political Isolation Law passed by the General National Congress. Mr Breish stepped aside on 8 June 2014 and appealed the decision.
- On 13 April, the Libyan Court of Appeal stated that the political isolation law did not apply to him and this led to his reinstatement as Chairman and CEO of the LIA on 18 May 2015.
- A legal opinion from the highly respected Libyan law firm Mukhtar, Kelbash & Elgharabli stated at the time that “Mr Breish should immediately be reinstated to … his positions as Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of LIA.”
- The importance of the LIA’s neutrality and independence is advocated by the governments of the EU, including the United Kingdom as well as the United States and others. They said in a joint statement on 11 May 2015:
“At a time when the UN-sponsored political process is making progress towards a lasting resolution of the conflict in Libya, we express our concern at attempts to divert Libyan resources to the narrow benefit of any side in the conflict and to disrupt financial and economic institutions that belong to all Libyans. We reiterate our expectation that those on all sides representing Libya’s independent institutions, namely the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Libyan Post Telecommunications and Information technology company (LPTIC) will continue to act in the long term interests of the Libyan people pending clarification of unified governance structures under a Government of National Accord.”