On Friday, the Director General of the Libyan Asset Recovery and Management Office (LARMO), Mohamed Mensli, called for easing sanctions on Libyan assets.
Speaking at an International Bar Association event on 3 November in Paris, Mensli acknowledged the need for sanctions in some cases, but highlighted their adverse impact on the Libyan people.
“Libya’s overseas frozen assets have incurred an annual loss of well over $1 billion USD, significantly impacting our capacity to address critical societal needs. This staggering figure translates into the inability to recruit essential personnel such as doctors, nurses, and teachers. It impedes our efforts to subsidise pensions, curb youth unemployment, build or maintain infra-structure, and reduce youth unemployment.” he said.
Mensli appealed to stakeholders to back LARMO’s strategy, focusing on recovering looted and neglected Libyan assets.
This approach involves collecting and responsibly investing these assets, for the benefit of the people, with rigorous internal and external oversight.
Mensli stressed extensive local and international support for this strategy, emphasising its potential for Libya’s recovery. Recent events, like the deadly flooding in Derna, underline the urgent need for action.
Mensli emphasised the injustice faced by Libyans who can’t access assets, rightfully belonging to them, despite enduring hardships.
“In the past few years alone, we lost billions of dollars —a sum that could have tangibly improved the lives of every Libyan, particularly those in the most vulnerable conditions.”
In April, the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU), headed by Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba asked Washington to help it recover tens of billions of dollars in state assets, that it alleges were stolen by Libya’s late leader Muammar Gaddafi and his associaties. These are believed to be hidden around the world, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Gaddafi ruled the oil-rich country for 42 years, before he was ousted and killed. Libyan officials say family members and others close to him looted government coffers of cash, gold, and rare antiquities. A 2016 study by Berlin-based Transparency International estimates as much as $120 billion was taken.
A United Nations agency helped Libya trace and identify roughly $54 billion in assets. This included deposits in banks, gold, diamonds, aircraft, and ships, some of which are in the US and other Western countries.
Last year, a court ordered Malta’s Bank of Valletta to return to Libya about 95 million euros, roughly $100 million, deposited by one of Gaddafi’s sons, Mutassim-Billah.