Suzan Hami, Media Office Director of Libya’s Asset Recovery Office (LARMO), reported eroding frozen assets abroad. She highlighted losses in Europe and Africa, stressing the need for national bodies, especially the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), to cooperate to protect these assets. Hami urged action to lift freezes, to preserve and leverage Libya’s overseas funds. She also mentioned the office’s participation in an international lawyers’ conference, spotlighting the issue.
The frozen assets, primarily held by the LIA, have experienced a significant decrease in value, dropping by over $1 billion dollars last year, as reported by Libya’s Audit Bureau. The LIA, which holds around $68 billion in assets, has struggled with the impacts of these assets being largely inaccessible due to sanctions and is in the process of publishing financial statements to provide a clearer picture of the situation.
These assets, located in Western banks and amounting to tens of billions of dollars, could potentially be repatriated to Libya within the next two to three years, according to the Libyan State Minister for Economic Affairs, Salama Al-Ghwail. This indicates a move towards resolving the longstanding issue of frozen assets, as part of Libya’s economic recovery.
However, there is concern that certain countries have taken advantage of Libya’s vulnerable position to appropriate these funds. This has been acknowledged by Libya’s Ambassador to the United Nations, highlighting the need for careful international cooperation, and perhaps amendments to UN resolutions that initially froze the funds.
Since 2011, the majority of LIA’s assets have been frozen under a United Nations resolution. This freeze has been a topic of debate among Libyan policymakers and the international community, as they weigh the potential benefits and risks of unfreezing these assets. The LIA is the largest source of ready money for the country, and the decision to maintain or release the freeze carries significant implications for Libya’s financial stability and economic future.
Given these complexities, the situation regarding Libya’s frozen assets remains a pivotal issue for the country’s economic health and sovereignty, and it appears that efforts are underway to navigate the challenges posed by the sanctions and potential asset erosion.