Libya’s SWF head arrested over corruption

An arrest warrant has been issued for the chairman of Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) over allegations of corruption.

The warrant was issued by Libya’s Attorney General’s office and it has been reported that Ali Mahmoud Hassan Mohammed has since been detained on charges of “corruption and exploitation of his position”.

Libya’s sovereign wealth fund has defended its chairman and stated that it is confident of his innocence. A spokesman told the Libya Herald that “the LIA is shocked by the allegations against [Mohammed] and his reported treatment”.

The arrest is yet another legal problem for the LIA which holds roughly $66 billion in assets, most of which have been frozen under US sanctions imposed in 2011 following the coup which deposed former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In November, Mohammed announced plans to hire an auditor in a bid to have the fund’s assets unlocked and to refute allegations that money had gone missing from the fund.

In addition to its bid to have sanctions lifted, the LIA is also the subject of a senior executive power struggle due to the presence of competing governments in the country. Mohammed was appointed as the fund’s chairman by the UN-backed, Tripoli-based government. Meanwhile there is a rival government operating in eastern Libya which has laid claim to the fund.

According to the LIA, the arrest of its current chairman is likely related to this power struggle.

An LIA spokesman stated: “It is no coincidence that this has happened only a week before a court hearing in London involving [Mohammed] against individuals purporting to be the chairman of the LIA, namely Abdulmajid Breish and Dr Hussein.”

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