March 7, 2016 / 6:29 PM / 3 years ago

LIA leadership case adjourned, judge says premature to rule

LONDON (Reuters) - A court case over the leadership claims of two rival heads of Libya’s $67 billion sovereign wealth fund was adjourned in London’s High Court on Monday, the judge declaring it would be premature to rule while moves were afoot to form a government of national accord.

Both Hassan Bouhadi and AbdulMagid Breish claim to be rightful chairman of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) - a long-running dispute that mirrors the fragmented nature of the country since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

A Tobruk government is challenged by a rival administration based in Tripoli. Both claim rights to the country’s resources.

Judge William Blair’s decision on the first day of a hearing followed arrival of a letter from the British Foreign Office, which was read out in court, on prospects for establishment of a Government of National Accord under U.N auspices that could effectively end the dispute.

Fayez Serraj, named in the Libya Political Agreement as head of the presidency council, was currently putting together a cabinet of ministers. The leadership of the LIA would be clarified as soon as possible after approval of that cabinet.

“In those circumstances, the court considers that it would be premature today to decide the issues before it,” said Justice Blair, adjourning the case.

The LIA wants to pursue Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) in the English courts for more than $3 billion it claims was mismanaged. Both banks have rejected the allegations.

Breish welcomed the decision.

“We must not lose sight of the main objective – to return the assets that we believe have been stolen from the Libyan people,” he said.

Bouhadi said he was optimistic there would soon be an established government of national accord.

“However, until then, the board of directors of the LIA has a duty to do everything it can do to protect the assets of the LIA.”

(Deletes erroneous reference in second paragraph to Bouhadi status)

Reporting by Claire Milhench; editing by Ralph Boulton

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