On Saturday, a Belgium judge issued an international arrest warrant for the Chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), Ali Mahmoud, as part of an investigation into the management of Libyan assets frozen in Belgium after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.
The Brussels Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the warrant after it was issued this month against the Chief of the sovereign wealth fund responsible for managing Libya’s assets and foreign investments.
Those funds were frozen in 2011 by the United Nations (UN) to avoid possible theft during an uprising against former ruler Moammar Gaddafi.
The funds, scattered over several continents before the fall of his regime, are often the subject of legal disputes between the Libyan state and the countries involved.
The assets in Belgium are placed in several banks, totaling more than €14 billion, though some funds disappeared under suspicious conditions that are under investigation.
According to the Belgian media, the investigating judge, Michel Claise, wants to interrogate Hassan about €2 billion that vanished from the Euroclear bank.
The legal saga over the frozen assets heightened tensions between the Belgian and Libyan governments, with Libyan Prime Minister Abdelhamid Al-Dbaiba accusing Belgium in November of “trying once again to seize Libyan funds.”
The funds in Belgium are the subject of a dispute that also involves Belgian Prince Laurent, the brother of King Philippe.
The Prince has been seeking compensation from Libya after his charity, the Global Sustainable Development Trust, invested invested about €50 million in an environmental project in 2008 that never went ahead due to Gaddafi’s fall.
In 2015, Prince Laurent filed a complaint of money laundering and breach of trust. Following investigations into the frozen assets, it was discovered that part of the funds disappeared in 2017.
Notably, the UN Sanctions Committee ordered in 2011 to freeze most of the funds of the LIA, including those in the Belgian clearing house, also known as the Euroclear Bank.