The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

Libyan Investment Authority chairman arrested over corruption, embezzlement - reports

Thursday, 7 February 2019, 16:36 Last update: about 4 months ago

The chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority has been arrested in Tripoli and is facing charges of corruption and embezzlement, Reuters and Libyan media are reporting.  

The LIA is Libya’s main sovereign wealth fund, Africa’s largest, and is in charge of investments estimated at over US$66 billion, which are managed from the LIA’s two offices - one in Tripoli, and one in Malta.

The LIA’s subsidiary in Malta, the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company Ltd (Lafico), has wide-ranging business interests in Malta, some of which are in partnership with the government.  These include investments in the Corinthia Group, the Vivaldi and Milano Due hotels, Medavia and Medelec.

It was the head of the Investigations Bureau at Libya’s Attorney General’s Office, Siddiq Al-Sour, who issued an arrest warrant for the LIA chairman Ali Mahmoud Hassan Mohamed, and there are unconfirmed reports that he was actually arrested on Wednesday at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport.

The Libyan government has so far not made any official statement on the reports.

An LIA spokesperson was quoted yesterday as saying, “The LIA is shocked by the allegations against Dr Mahmoud and his reported treatment today. The LIA is confident that Dr Mahmoud will be found innocent of all allegations. Dr Mahmoud and the LIA have been working hard to secure the assets and interests of the LIA for the benefit of Libya and the Libyan people.”

On the timing of the arrest warrant the statement added, “It is no coincidence that this has happened only a week before a court hearing in London involving Dr Mahmoud against individuals purporting to be the chairmen of the LIA, namely Abdulmajid Breish and Mohamed Hussein.”

The spokesman for the Special Deterrent Force (SDF), Ahmed Ali said that the Attorney General Office had issued the order for Mahmoud’s arrest on corruption charges: "The head of the LIA is imprisoned in the Reform and Rehabilitation Institution in Tripoli, under the Ministry of Justice, in accordance with the legal procedures followed. The SDF has no bearing on this case."

The spokesperson also confirmed that the corruption investigations on are being carried out under direct supervision of the Attorney General's Office, Reuters reported.

Mahmoud is now reportedly being detained at the Special Deterrence Force-run Rehabilitation Prison at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, where he is being held on charges of corruption and embezzlement.

Mahmoud had been appointed as the CEO of the LIA back in August 2016.  At the time, he had enthused about Malta, saying, “The EU regulations, accountability standards and governance that is offered by the Malta platform for the LIA is vital to our credibility with banks, investment partners and those companies in which the LIA invests.”

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