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Libya asks UN to ease wealth fund sanctions

TOBRUK – Libya on Thursday asked the UN Security Council to allow its sovereign wealth fund to manage accounts frozen under UN sanctions and recover billions of dollars in annual losses.

Libyan Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi requested the exemption for the Libyan investment Authority to allow the management of frozen assets while they remain under UN sanctions.

Dabbashi told the council he was “surprised” that there had been no response to his request outlined in a letter last week.

“This means that the council will be responsible, from now on, for all the losses recorded by the Libyan body,” Dabbashi said.

“These are profits that we could have collected to the tune of $2 billion a year,” he said.

Dabbashi recalled that world powers had urged Libya to protect its wealth and warned that the United Nations would lose credibility in the eyes of Libyans if it failed to help stem the losses.

Estimated at some $67 billion, the Libyan investment authority has been described as Africa’s largest sovereign wealth fund, pouring funds mostly abroad with a view to reduce Libyan reliance on oil and gas production.

Some of the assets that the LIA manages were frozen under UN sanctions in 2011 during the upheaval that followed the overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi.

Dabbashi argued that the current fund managers have no access to some of the accounts in equity portfolios to respond to market or currency fluctuations and cannot cash in bonds that have matured for re-investment.

The LIA has been dogged by leadership disputes, but Dabbashi did not address those in his comments to the council.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution renewing some sanctions on Libya, a day after the prime minister of a UN-backed unity government arrived in Tripoli under heavy security.

The new government’s arrival had been hailed by the international community as a crucial step in restoring order to Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since Kadhafi’s ouster.

British Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson said easing restrictions on the wealth fund was among the issues “that we are going to look at in due course” and stressed that support for the new leadership was crucial.

Libya has had two administrations since mid-2014 when the militia alliance overran Tripoli, setting up its own authority and forcing the internationally recognized parliament to flee to the country’s remote east.

 

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